As El Pasoans turn to air conditioning to stay cool, the El Paso Fire Department would like to remind the public to be safe when working with air conditioning units.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, contact with electrical current from air conditioners accounts for a significant number of electrocutions and electrical injuries each year. The U.S. Fire Administration adds that while some electrical fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, many are caused by misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, overloaded circuits and/or improper extension cord use.

The El Paso Fire Department would like to remind the public to follow these safety guidelines when handling or working with air conditioning units:

  • Be sure that both the electrical circuit and the electrical outlet can handle the load. When in doubt, have a licensed electrician inspect your home’s wiring and advise you if it will safely handle air conditioning units.
  • Always plug in air conditioners into a grounded, three-prong outlet. If an appliance cord does not fit an outlet, have a licensed electrician replace the outlet.
  • If you must use an extension cord to reach a grounded outlet, make certain that you use a cord designed for air conditioners and that it is UL listed, meets OSHA specifications and can handle the power needed by your air conditioner. Always inspect cords before using them.
  • Ensure the plug blades and grounding pins are present, and do not use extension cords that are cut or damaged. Never run an extension cord under a flammable item; it will trap heat, which may cause a fire. Keep in mind, some manufacturers will not honor warranties if units are plugged in with extension cords.
  • Have your air conditioner cleaned and inspected before the first use.
  • Conduct routine maintenance checks (cleaning or changing filters and pads) during the summer.