CPSC Issues Startling Electrocution Warning For These Cables Sold On Amazon

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In no uncertain terms, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a warning advising anyone who purchased a male-to-male extension cable on Amazon to stop using it immediately and throw it away. Using these types of cables is dangerous and presents numerous hazards, including risk of electrocution, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning, the agency says.

Unlike the type of extension cable you'll find at your local hardware store, the ones being warned against have three prong plugs on both ends of the cord. Most people don't have cause to use male-to-male extension cords, though some consumers seek them out to "back-feed" electricity from a generator to a home, without using a transfer panel. There are other potential use-cases as well—such as Christmas lights—though this is probably the most common application.

"When plugged into a generator or outlet, the opposite end has live electricity posing a risk of serious shock or electrocution. Additionally, the flow of electric power in the direction reverse to that of the typical flow of power circumvents safety features of the home’s electrical system and can result in a fire," the CPSC warns.

Male-to-Male extenion cables

Additionally, there's a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, as the short length of these cords encourages placing the generator dangerously close to the home. Suffice to say, "these cords do not comply with applicable national safety codes" and should never be used.

Even so, it's not terribly difficult to find and buy these types of cords. According to the CPSC, they were sold in multiple colors and lengths on Amazon for between $40 and $72. Here's a list of known Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) attached to these cables...
  • B0953LWLDN
  • B095LHT5M5
  • B096VT4495
  • B095LRG6MH
  • B0933CJG16
  • B097TGQDQ6
  • B097BLRDTQ
  • B0953MSP65
  • B0953QGLZZ
It looks like most or all of those have been de-listed on Amazon, though we were able to find a few other listings priced between $18.99 and $22.99.

The danger of using male-to-male extension cables is not new information. Electricians commonly refer to them as "suicide cords" and "widow makers," terms that can also be found in some of the user reviews. As for why the CPSC chose now to issue a warning, it's possible that these only recently showed up on Amazon—the listings we found appear to have only been live for a few weeks.
Tags:  Amazon, cables, CPSC