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Misuse of extension cords poses risk of fire and injury

Published: Sun, November 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.

If it looks like Medusa left her wig hiding behind your Christmas tree, perhaps you ought to consider cutting back on extension cords.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site, each year about 3,300 residential fires erupt across the United States due to misuse of extension cords.

Improper use of extension cords is also to blame for about 4,000 injuries annually.

Children younger than 5 who have suffered electrical burns account for 13 percent of that number, and half of those injured have hurt themselves by tripping over cords.

"Most people don't use extension cords correctly, especially during the holidays," said Marie Economos, a family and consumer science agent at Ohio State University's Trumbull County Extension office.

Recipe for disaster: Economos said improper use of extension cords is a rampant problem during the holidays, a problem that can easily become the recipe for disaster.

"People use extension cords made for low wattage items on items that have too much wattage; they leave cords lying out where children can bite them and get shocked; and they plug too many cords together for use with Christmas lights and other decorations. Serious injuries and fires can be the result," she said.


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