Aren’t drawers wonderful? They slide into their own crypts, creating homes for just about anything you want to keep, but don’t need to see all of the time. What an ingenious use of space! Almost every room in the house has drawers. Kitchens probably have the most, followed by offices and bedrooms. Even bathrooms hold two or three. Let’s not omit closets; their drawers have replaced what was formerly hanging space for ball gowns or granny dresses. The point here is if you counted up all the drawers in your china cabinet, night tables, dressers, workbenches and buffet, and added that number to the aforementioned, you would be counting in at least the double digit range. I counted 46 in my apartment.
Our question for today is this: How many of those drawers have extension cords living in them? If you estimate a minimum of a half dozen or so, you would not be far off. We like to see ourselves as “household archeologists” detecting the patterns of accumulation that apply to a broad swath of the general population. Extension cords are among the most ubiquitous species of C.R.U.D. that find their way into practically every area of the home. What’s the reason for that?
No double socket wall outlet is capable of handling today’s demands for power without the help of extension cords. They are like little godsends. Cord too short to reach the source? Plug in an extension cord and place the lamp where you want it? Getting a new home theater system for the holidays? Pick up a power bar and add all the components you need? What about your computer? You also need to plug in your printer, speakers, scanner, and external hard drive. Consider all the outlets you need just for charging –your tablet PC, smart phones and MP3 players for openers. Even your kitchen counter probably has four or five small appliances competing for the available outlets. Then there are Christmas lights. If you live in an older dwelling you may find the single outlet per room woefully inadequate. If you reside in newer construction there is typically a more generous supply of outlets.
Thus far we have established there is a considerable demand, but it does not explain the entire surplus of un-used cords around the house. Like many other examples of C.R.U.D., extension cords fit under the twin umbrellas of “I might need that someday” and “too good to throw away.” Imagine you have replaced cords with either power bars or outlets that triple the number of available sockets. There is nothing wrong with the old cord, so you keep it for some future undetermined use. Other cords may have been upgraded to comply with the necessary power rating – maximum current, wire gauge, and length. There are additional cords, for example, the type used to connect your land line from the phone to the jack in the wall. You keep them all, just in case.
This should not be too hard to remedy. You merely have to look in the drawers, plastic bags, cabinets and shelves in all of the spaces where cords may be cowering. It is not necessary to discard each and everyone, but you need to apply some objective criteria to your weeding. Safety should be of primary concern. Thinner gauge older extension cords can overheat and cause fires or cause shocks. Examine your collection for wear and tear on the insulation. Get rid of cords that may have belonged to a power tool or device you no longer own, like those really thick printer cables that pre-dated the era of the USB. You can certainly donate excess cords if you have too many of any single type or length. There is probably not too much need for the variety that only handle a two-pronged plug. Your other option is to unplug from everything, but that would be too much of a challenge.