Why You Should Never Make (or Even Buy) a Male-to-Male Extension Cord
A recent Consumer Product Safety Commission alert is urging people to not use male-to-male power chords. The product, which is illegal, can be purchased online. It is supposed to be used to feed electricity from a generator into the main power system of a building. However, the consequences of doing this could be severe. There have been many warnings made by hardware stores over the years about male-to-male adapters for holiday lights. However, sometimes these warnings are ignored and can lead to serious injuries.
Once a cord is plugged into a power source, the other end of it becomes “live,” and with a male-to-male connector, the metal tines of the plug become electrified and cause a serious shock risk. The ends can electrify any conductive object they touch, even household objects made of metal. That means that if you come in contact with a live cord, you could get 120v worth of a shock-enough to kill you under the right circumstances. The risk of electrocution is higher if the live end isn’t connected to a safety shutoff or breaker.
Unfortunately, electric shock is only one of many ways that a double-male extension cord can harm you. If you use it to try to electrify your home with a generator it will be running at least part of the time in the opposite direction. This means safety features such as circuit breakers can be bypassed, which can lead to a fire and severe injury to those who are inside. If the power is restored to the generator while it’s connected to a house, a fire can start at the generator.
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Bypassing the standard safety systems isn’t only dangerous to those on the property using the generator. Utility workers trying to restore power to an outage area are also at risk. The power lines they are working on can become unexpectedly electric. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning can occur even if the generator is turned off at your home. If there is no safety system, the breaker could be accidentally turned back on.
Another hidden danger of using a short, double-ended adapter like the ones being sold online to power generators is one you might not have considered: The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that gas-powered generators running so close to your home might increase your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fumes from the generator.
The best practice, obviously, is to leave home wiring to the pros. Although an adapter may seem like a great solution for a misdirected string of Christmas lights
Always leave wiring to the pros
The best practice is to leave home wiring to the pros. These adapters can be dangerous and could endanger your safety and that of your neighbors if you are not a certified electrician.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.