Posted May 31, 2023
Extension Cord Safety Recommendations

Restaurants and bars are complicated operations with changing electrical needs. Often, during inspections, our Loss Control Specialists find that these needs are being met by use of extension cords and gang plugs, but their use is not a permanent solution and can prove to be a fire hazard. The following guidelines should be observed when using extension cords and power strips in any situation.

  • Extension cords and power strips/surge protectors/Relocatable Power Taps (RPTs) should not be used together.
  • Extension cords and power strips/surge protectors/RPTs should only be used for low power load equipment, such as computers and audio-visual equipment. They are not meant to be used for microwaves, refrigerators/freezers, toaster ovens, or space heaters. Use in this manner can cause equipment to overheat and may result in a fire.
  • Cords should be properly rated for the way they are being used and should be approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Extension cords should not be run through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. If cords are covered, heat cannot escape, which may result in a fire.
  • Extension cords should not be stapled or nailed to walls or baseboards.
  • Outdoor extension cords should be kept free of snow and standing water.
  • Gang plugs should not be used as they may overtax electrical systems and result in fire.
  • Extension cords and power strips are temporary, never meant to be used as a permanent solution, and should be unplugged from wall outlets when not in use.

A heavy reliance on extension cords, gang plugs, and power strips, surge protectors, or RPTs indicates that there are too few outlets to meet the needs of the operation. The best way to remedy this is to contact an electrician and have additional electrical outlets installed where needed.

ICC’s Loss Control Specialists are knowledgeable and consult with our insureds about these and other hazards during inspections to help protect their operations and property. You can find an ICC agent in your area by using our Find an Agent search.