The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a final rule specifying that extension cords (both indoor and outdoor use cords) that do not contain one or more of the following readily observable characteristics constitute a substantial product hazard under the Consumer Product Safety Act.

- minimum wire size

- sufficient strain relief

- proper polarity

- proper continuity

- outlet covers (for certain two-wire indoor extension cords)

- jacketed cord (for outdoor extension cords)

The CPSC has determined that these are all readily observable characteristics of extension cords and addressed by a voluntary standard (UL 817), that extension cords sold in the U.S. substantially comply with this standard, and that conformance with this standard has been effective in reducing the risk of injury from shock and fire associated with these cords.

The final rule applies to indoor and outdoor general-use extension cords that can be used with many different types of electrical appliances. Excluded are detachable power supply cords, appliance cords, power strips and taps, and adaptor cords supplied with outdoor tools and yard equipment.

As a result of this action, effective Aug. 26 (1) covered extension cords will be subject to the reporting requirements of 15 USC 2064(b); (2) the CPSC could order importers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers of violative cords to offer to repair or replace the cord or refund the purchase price to the consumer; and (3) violative cords will be refused admission into the U.S. and subject to U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizure and forfeiture.

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