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Worn extension cords/plugs source of vehicle fires

Manitoba Public Insurance is encouraging vehicle owners to inspect their extension cords after several vehicle fires have been attributed to faulty/broken extension cords.

A cracked extension cord, or blockheater cord with a corroded plug can result in “electrical arcing” which 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 blockheater/in-car heater plugs. The majority of these fires take place in winter.

Fire-damaged vehicles are regularly inspected by an expert, Manitoba Public Insurance fire-investigator who searches for the causation of the vehicle fire. In some instances, the vehicle fire is determined to be deliberate, resulting in further investigation by Manitoba Public Insurance’s Special Investigation Unit.

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 which 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/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.

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