Manitoba Public Insurance is encouraging vehicle owners to inspect their extension cords after several vehicle fires were attributed to faulty or broken extension cords.
A cracked extension cord, or a block heater cord with a corroded plug, can result in “electrical arcing” that can quickly spark a fire.
Each year in Manitoba, about 1,000 vehicles are damaged by fire — several dozen are the direct result of damaged extension cords or worn block heater/in-car heater plugs. The majority of these fires take place in winter.
During bitterly cold winter temperatures, Manitobans will plug in their vehicles to heat various engine fluids (anti-freeze/oil), allowing for easier starting.
Extension cords that are cracked or have exposed wires should be replaced. Corrosion can be caused by exposure to moisture, dirt and road salts.
With personal safety in mind, people are advised not to plug in their vehicles within a garage or any other enclosed structure.
Safety tips for extension cords/block heater plugs:
• Don’t drive over your extension cord. This can cause cracking or breaking during bitterly cold weather.
• Cover your block heater plug-in with its protective cover.
• Unplug your block heater by using the hard, rubber end. Pulling on the electrical cord can cause breakage and potential electrical issues.
• Have your block heater cord inspected each fall by a qualified mechanic.