Can I Use Extension Cord For Rice Cooker? Understanding the Risks and Best Practices

Fact Checked By: Macaria Valerie

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In the realm of culinary convenience, rice cookers stand out as indispensable allies in the kitchen, simplifying the process of cooking one of the most basic yet essential staples of meals worldwide. However, the practicality of using these handy appliances can sometimes be challenged by the layout of kitchen spaces, where electrical outlets may not always be within easy reach. This scenario raises an important question: Can you use an extension cord with your rice cooker safely and effectively?

The answer, while leaning towards the affirmative, comes with its share of caveats and considerations. The use of extension cords is a common practice in households and workplaces, bridging the gap between electrical appliances and distant outlets. Yet, when it comes to kitchen appliances like rice cookers, which often draw significant power for heating and maintaining temperatures, the stakes for safety and efficiency are notably higher. Understanding the intricacies of extension cord use—from gauging the appropriate wattage and amperage to recognizing the right length and type—becomes crucial in ensuring that your rice cooking experience remains both safe and satisfying.

This exploration into the compatibility of rice cookers with extension cords delves into the essential guidelines, risks, and best practices. By equipping readers with the knowledge to make informed decisions, we aim to navigate the complexities of electrical safety, minimize potential hazards, and maximize the utility and enjoyment derived from using rice cookers. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast seeking to optimize your kitchen setup or a college student making do with limited space, understanding how to safely pair rice cookers with extension cords can enhance both the convenience and safety of your cooking endeavors.

Overview of Using Electrical Appliances with Extension Cords

extension cord for rice cooker

Using electrical appliances with extension cords is a common practice in households and workplaces alike, especially when built-in electrical outlets are not conveniently located or are insufficient in number. While extension cords offer a practical solution to power appliances from a distance, their use with electrical appliances, including kitchen gadgets like rice cookers, requires careful consideration to ensure safety and efficiency.

Key Considerations for Using Extension Cords with Electrical Appliances

  • Safety First: The foremost consideration when using extension cords is safety. Incorrect use of an extension cord can lead to risks such as electrical fires, shock, or damage to the appliance. It’s crucial to use extension cords that are properly rated for the appliance’s power requirements.
  • Power Requirements: Appliances come with specific power needs, measured in watts or amperes. The extension cord used must be able to handle the appliance’s maximum power draw without overheating. Using an undersized cord can cause the cord to overheat, potentially leading to a fire hazard.
  • Cord Length and Gauge: The length and wire gauge (thickness) of an extension cord affect its capacity to carry power. Longer cords and those with a smaller gauge (thicker wires) are preferred for high-power appliances to prevent voltage drop and overheating. However, unnecessarily long cords should be avoided as they can pose tripping hazards and may reduce the appliance’s performance due to voltage drops.
  • Quality and Certification: It’s important to choose extension cords that have been tested and certified by recognized safety standards organizations. These cords are designed to ensure safe operation when used according to their specifications.
  • Temporary Solution: Ideally, extension cords should be used as a temporary solution rather than a permanent fixture. If you find yourself relying on an extension cord regularly, it might be time to consider adding more outlets or rearranging your space.

Best Practices for Safe Use

  • Inspect the Cord Regularly: Before use, inspect the extension cord for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Damaged cords should be replaced immediately to prevent accidents.
  • Do Not Overload: Avoid plugging multiple high-power appliances into the same extension cord, as this can exceed the cord’s capacity and lead to overheating.
  • Proper Placement: Place cords away from high-traffic areas to avoid tripping hazards. Avoid running cords under carpets or doors where they can be damaged.
  • Unplug When Not in Use: To prevent potential risks, unplug the extension cord when it’s not in use, especially if you’re leaving the house or going to sleep.

While extension cords are incredibly useful for bridging the gap between your electrical appliances and distant outlets, their use must be approached with caution and responsibility. By understanding the power requirements of your appliances, selecting the right extension cord, and adhering to safety best practices, you can mitigate risks and ensure a safe and efficient power solution for your electrical needs.

Brief Mention of the Common Need or Situation Leading To the Use of Extension Cords With Rice Cookers

The use of extension cords with rice cookers often arises from practical needs and spatial constraints in kitchens. Many kitchens, especially in older homes or apartments, may not have enough electrical outlets located where they’re most needed. This can be particularly challenging in small kitchens or when the design does not accommodate modern appliance use patterns.

For instance, if the only available countertop space for a rice cooker is far from an outlet, an extension cord becomes a necessary solution to bridge this gap. Similarly, in temporary cooking setups, such as in outdoor kitchens, dorm rooms, or during special events and gatherings, where built-in outlets may not be accessible or sufficient, extension cords provide the flexibility to use rice cookers and other appliances conveniently.

Moreover, when rearranging kitchen appliances to optimize workspace or during the use of temporary additional appliances for large meal preparations, extension cords can offer the versatility needed to power devices from less conventional locations.

In all these situations, extension cords serve as a practical tool to ensure kitchen appliances, like rice cookers, are powered safely and effectively, despite the limitations posed by the kitchen’s electrical infrastructure or the temporary nature of the cooking setup.

Understanding Electrical Terms and Safety

Understanding electrical terms and safety is crucial when using appliances like rice cookers, especially if you’re considering the use of an extension cord to power them. Here’s a breakdown of key electrical concepts and safety tips to ensure a secure and efficient operation:

Key Electrical Terms

  • Wattage (W): This measures the power consumption of an appliance. Knowing the wattage of your rice cooker helps determine if an extension cord or outlet can handle the electrical load without overheating.
  • Voltage (V): This represents the potential difference that drives electric current through a circuit. Most household appliances are designed for a standard voltage (e.g., 120V in the U.S., 230V in Europe).
  • Amperage (A): This measures the current flow. The capacity of an extension cord and the circuit it’s plugged into is rated in amperes. It’s important to ensure that the cord and the circuit can handle the appliance’s current draw.
  • Gauge: Refers to the thickness of the wires inside the extension cord. A lower gauge number means a thicker wire, which can carry more current without overheating.

Electrical Safety Guidelines

  • Check Appliance and Cord Ratings: Always verify that the extension cord is rated for the wattage or amperage of your rice cooker. Using an undersized cord can lead to overheating and potentially start a fire.
  • Use Shorter Cords When Possible: The longer the extension cord, the more the voltage drop, which can affect appliance performance and increase the risk of overheating. Use the shortest possible cord to reach from the outlet to your appliance.
  • Inspect Cords Regularly: Look for signs of wear, tear, or damage in both the appliance’s cord and the extension cord. Damaged cords can expose wires, posing a risk of shock or fire.
  • Avoid Daisy Chaining: Plugging one extension cord into another (daisy chaining) can exceed the electrical capacity of the cords and outlets, leading to overheating. If you need more length, use a single, longer cord that can handle the total load.
  • Keep Cords Away from Water: Electricity and water are a dangerous combination. Ensure cords are not running across sinks or areas prone to wetness.
  • Do Not Cover Cords: Covered cords can’t dissipate heat effectively, increasing the risk of fire. Keep them uncovered and away from flammable materials.
  • Unplug When Not in Use: To prevent unnecessary power consumption and reduce the risk of electrical accidents, unplug both the appliance and the extension cord when not in use.
  • Professional Installation: If you find yourself frequently needing an extension cord for your rice cooker or other kitchen appliances, consider having additional outlets installed by a licensed electrician.

Understanding and adhering to these electrical terms and safety guidelines can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and ensure that your use of rice cookers and other appliances is both safe and efficient.

Risks Associated with Using Extension Cords for Kitchen Appliances

Using extension cords for kitchen appliances, including rice cookers, can introduce several risks if not done cautiously and correctly. Awareness of these potential hazards is the first step in mitigating risks and ensuring safe operation. Here are the primary concerns associated with using extension cords for kitchen appliances:

Overheating and Fire Risks

  • Mismatched Cord Specifications: Using an extension cord that cannot handle the appliance’s wattage or amperage can cause the cord to overheat, potentially leading to a fire. This is particularly a concern with high-power kitchen appliances.
  • Covered Cords: Cords hidden under rugs or furniture may not dissipate heat properly, increasing the risk of overheating and fire.

Electrical Shock

  • Damaged Cords: Worn, frayed, or otherwise damaged extension cords pose a risk of electrical shock to users, especially in kitchen environments where the presence of water heightens the danger.
  • Improper Use: Using an extension cord that is not rated for outdoor use outdoors, or one not designed to handle moisture in a kitchen, can lead to electrical shock incidents.
  • Voltage Drop and Appliance Damage
  • Long Cords: Extension cords that are too long can cause a significant voltage drop, potentially affecting the performance of the appliance or even causing damage to its motor or other components.

Tripping Hazard

  • Physical Placement: Extension cords running across floors can pose serious tripping hazards, especially in busy kitchen environments. This can lead to injuries or accidents, including spilling hot food or liquids.
  • Degradation of Appliance Performance
  • Insufficient Power Supply: Aforementioned voltage drops can lead to underperformance of appliances. For rice cookers, this might mean longer cooking times or improperly cooked rice.

Best Practices to Mitigate Risks

  • Choose the Correct Cord: Use only heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically rated for the wattage or amperage of the kitchen appliance being powered.
  • Inspect Cords Regularly: Before use, inspect both the appliance’s power cord and the extension cord for any signs of damage or wear. Replace damaged cords immediately.
  • Avoid Overloading: Do not plug multiple high-power appliances into the same extension cord simultaneously.
  • Keep Cords Visible: Avoid running extension cords under carpets or furniture and keep them away from areas with water.
  • Shorter Is Better: Use the shortest possible extension cord to minimize risks of voltage drop and tripping.
  • Unplug When Not in Use: To prevent overheating and energy waste, unplug the extension cord and the appliance when they are not in use.

While extension cords can provide a convenient power solution in the kitchen, their use must be approached with an understanding of the associated risks and a commitment to safety precautions. By following best practices, you can safely use extension cords with kitchen appliances, including rice cookers, without compromising on safety or performance.

Choosing the Right Extension Cord

Choosing the right extension cord for your rice cooker or any kitchen appliance is crucial to ensure safety, efficiency, and longevity of your devices. Here are key factors to consider when selecting an extension cord:

1. Understand Cord Ratings

  • Wattage and Amperage Compatibility: Ensure the extension cord can handle the power requirements of your appliance. Check the wattage (W) or amperage (A) rating of your rice cooker and choose a cord that meets or exceeds these specifications.
  • Voltage Rating: The cord should be rated for the same voltage as your appliance. In most household settings, this will be 120V or 230V, depending on your country.

2. Consider the Gauge

  • Wire Thickness (Gauge): The thickness of the wire inside the extension cord, known as the gauge, is crucial. Lower gauge numbers indicate thicker wires that can carry more current. For kitchen appliances, a thicker wire (lower gauge number) is generally preferred to safely handle the electrical load.
  • Gauge and Length Relationship: The longer the extension cord, the thicker (lower gauge number) the wire should be to safely conduct electricity without significant voltage drops or overheating.

3. Length Matters

  • Shorter Is Safer: Choose the shortest length necessary to reach from the outlet to your appliance. Shorter cords reduce the risk of tripping, voltage drop, and potential overheating.
  • Avoid Unnecessary Length: While it might be tempting to opt for a longer cord for flexibility, unnecessary length can lead to coiling, which can cause the cord to overheat.

4. Check for Safety Certifications

  • Certifications: Look for cords that have been certified by recognized safety standards organizations, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Intertek Testing Services), or CE (Conformité Européenne). These certifications indicate the cord has been tested for safety and reliability.

5. Select the Right Type of Cord

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Use: Ensure the cord is designed for the intended use environment. Outdoor-rated cords are more durable and resistant to water, temperature changes, and UV light, which is important for appliances used outside.
  • Heavy-Duty Cords: For high-power appliances like some rice cookers, consider using a heavy-duty extension cord, which is designed to handle higher electrical loads.

6. Plug and Connector Types

  • Grounded Plugs: If your rice cooker has a three-prong plug, the extension cord must also have a three-prong (grounded) design to maintain the safety feature of grounding.

7. Cord Condition

  • New vs. Used: While reusing an old extension cord can be cost-effective, ensure it is in good condition without any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Damaged cords pose a serious safety risk.

Choosing the right extension cord involves more than just picking up any cord at the store or using what’s readily available at home. By considering the appliance’s power requirements, the cord’s gauge, length, safety certifications, and intended use, you can ensure a safe and efficient power solution for your kitchen appliances. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when using extension cords with any electrical devices.

Best Practices for Using Extension Cords with Rice Cookers

Using extension cords with rice cookers, or any kitchen appliance, requires careful consideration to ensure safety and efficiency. Here are best practices to follow when powering your rice cooker with an extension cord:

1. Choose the Right Extension Cord

  • Select an extension cord that matches or exceeds the wattage and amperage requirements of your rice cooker.
  • Opt for a cord with a gauge suitable for the appliance’s power needs, typically a lower gauge (thicker wire) for higher power devices.

2. Inspect the Extension Cord

  • Regularly check both the extension cord and the rice cooker’s power cord for any signs of damage, such as fraying, cuts, or exposed wires. Discontinue use of damaged cords immediately.

3. Use Short Extension Cords When Possible

  • A shorter cord minimizes the risk of tripping and voltage drop. It also reduces the likelihood of the cord becoming tangled or creating a hazard.

4. Avoid Running Cords Under Rugs or Furniture

  • This can cause overheating and presents a fire risk. Ensure the cord is laid out in open areas where heat can dissipate naturally.

5. Do Not Overload the Extension Cord

  • Avoid plugging multiple high-wattage appliances into the same extension cord. This can exceed the cord’s capacity and lead to overheating.

6. Keep Extension Cords Away from Water

  • Given the rice cooker’s use in a kitchen setting, ensure the extension cord is placed away from sinks, water sources, and wet areas to prevent electrical shock.

7. Unplug Extension Cords When Not in Use

  • To avoid potential hazards and save energy, unplug the extension cord when the rice cooker is not in operation, especially if it will not be used for an extended period.

8. Do Not Daisy Chain Extension Cords

  • Connecting multiple extension cords together can create a significant safety hazard. Use a single cord of the appropriate length and rating for your needs.

9. Securely Plug In the Cord

  • Ensure the extension cord is fully inserted into the outlet and that the rice cooker’s plug is securely connected to the extension cord to prevent accidental disconnections or arcing.

10. Consider a Permanent Solution If Needed

  • If you find yourself regularly needing an extension cord for your rice cooker, it may be worth considering installing additional outlets closer to where you need them. Consult a professional electrician for safe and compliant installation.

Following these best practices will help mitigate the risks associated with using extension cords with rice cookers and ensure a safer kitchen environment. Always prioritize safety over convenience and inspect your appliances and cords regularly to maintain a safe cooking area.

Alternatives to Using Extension Cords

While extension cords can offer a temporary solution for connecting rice cookers and other kitchen appliances to power sources, relying on them regularly can pose safety risks and inconveniences. Here are some alternatives to using extension cords, aiming to provide safer and more permanent solutions for powering your appliances:

1. Rearrange Your Kitchen Setup

  • Optimize Appliance Placement: Consider rearranging your kitchen layout or appliance placement to bring them closer to existing outlets. This may eliminate the need for extension cords altogether.
  • Use Appliance with Built-in Extension: Some kitchen appliances come with longer power cords to offer more flexibility in placement. Look for rice cookers with this feature when shopping for new appliances.

2. Use Appliance-Specific Built-in Outlets

  • Custom Outlets: Installing outlets specifically where you need them for appliances like rice cookers can provide a direct power source without the need for extension cords. This is especially useful in kitchens where appliance locations are fixed.

3. Upgrade Your Kitchen’s Electrical System

  • Additional Outlets: Hiring a professional electrician to install more wall outlets in your kitchen can provide more convenient access to power for all your appliances and reduce reliance on extension cords.
  • Power Strips with Surge Protection: For appliances with lower power requirements, using a surge-protected power strip can be a safer alternative to extension cords, offering multiple outlets while protecting your appliances from voltage spikes.

4. Utilize Retractable Power Cords

  • Retractable Solutions: Some products on the market offer retractable power cord systems that can be installed under cabinets or on countertops. These systems allow you to pull out a power cord when needed and retract it back, keeping your kitchen space tidy and safe.

5. Invest in Wireless or Battery-Operated Appliances

  • Innovative Appliances: As technology advances, more appliances are available in wireless or rechargeable battery-operated versions. While more common in small gadgets, this trend might expand to include more kitchen appliances, offering ultimate freedom from cords.

6. Consult a Professional Electrician

  • Professional Advice: If you’re unsure about the best solution for your needs or the safety of your current setup, consulting with a licensed electrician can provide personalized advice. An electrician can assess your kitchen’s electrical layout and recommend the safest, most efficient approach to power your appliances.

Choosing alternatives to extension cords not only enhances safety in the kitchen but also contributes to a more functional and aesthetically pleasing cooking environment. By considering the layout of your kitchen, the specific needs of your appliances, and consulting professionals when necessary, you can find effective solutions to power your rice cooker and other appliances safely and conveniently.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some expert-level questions and answers on the topic of using an extension cord with a rice cooker:

Q: Can I use any extension cord with my rice cooker?

A: No, not all extension cords are suitable for use with rice cookers. You should use an extension cord that matches or exceeds the wattage and amperage requirements of your rice cooker. Look for a heavy-duty cord with the appropriate gauge (thickness of the wire) and ensure it’s rated for the power needs of your appliance.

Q: How do I know if an extension cord is safe to use with my rice cooker?

A: Check the extension cord for a safety certification mark from a recognized testing laboratory, such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ETL (Intertek). The cord should also have a rating label that indicates its wattage or amperage capacity; this should meet or exceed the specifications of your rice cooker. Additionally, inspect the cord for any physical damage before use.

Q: Can using an extension cord with a rice cooker cause a fire?

A: Yes, there is a fire risk if the extension cord is not properly rated for the rice cooker’s power consumption, is damaged, or is used improperly (e.g., covered by a rug or daisy-chained with other cords). Using the correct type of extension cord and following safety guidelines significantly reduces this risk.

Q: Will my rice cooker take longer to cook if I use it with an extension cord?

A: If the extension cord is properly rated for your rice cooker’s power needs and is not excessively long, there should be minimal impact on cooking time. However, a very long cord or one with a lower than required capacity could cause a voltage drop, potentially affecting cooking performance.

Q: Is it okay to leave the extension cord plugged in with the rice cooker after cooking?

A: For safety, it’s best to unplug the extension cord from the wall outlet and disconnect your rice cooker when not in use. This practice helps prevent potential hazards and conserves energy.

Q: What should I do if there are no outlets near my kitchen counter where I use my rice cooker?

A: If it’s necessary to use an extension cord due to outlet placement, choose a heavy-duty cord that is the shortest length required to safely reach the appliance. For a more permanent solution, consider hiring a licensed electrician to install additional outlets closer to your cooking area.

Q: How can I avoid tripping over the extension cord while cooking?

A: Route the extension cord along the edge of the kitchen or against walls where it’s less likely to be in the path of foot traffic. Avoid running the cord across doorways or open areas where it can become a tripping hazard. Securely tape down any portions of the cord that might pose a risk, using tape designed for that purpose.

Q: What are the key considerations when selecting an extension cord for a high-wattage rice cooker?

A: When selecting an extension cord for a high-wattage rice cooker, key considerations include:
Cord Rating: Ensure the cord is rated for the wattage or amperage of the rice cooker. This is crucial to prevent overheating.
Wire Gauge: Opt for a cord with a gauge (thickness) suitable for high-wattage appliances; the lower the gauge number, the thicker the wire and the more power it can handle.
Length: Shorter cords are preferable as they reduce the risk of voltage drops and overheating. Choose the shortest length necessary for your setup.
Safety Certifications: Look for cords that have been certified by reputable organizations (e.g., UL, ETL) to ensure they meet safety standards.

Q: Can the use of an extension cord affect the cooking performance of a rice cooker?

A: Yes, using an extension cord, especially if it’s not suited for the appliance’s power requirements, can affect the cooking performance. A cord that is too long or has an inadequate gauge may result in a voltage drop, leading to insufficient heating power for the rice cooker and potentially affecting cooking times and rice quality.

Q: Are there specific types of extension cords that should be used with kitchen appliances like rice cookers?

A: For kitchen appliances like rice cookers, heavy-duty extension cords with a grounding plug (three-pronged) are recommended. These cords are designed to handle higher power loads safely. Ensure the cord is rated for indoor use and has a sufficient gauge and amp rating to support the appliance’s power needs.

Q: What risks are associated with using inadequately rated extension cords for rice cookers?

A: Using inadequately rated extension cords can lead to several risks, including:
Overheating: The cord can become excessively hot, damaging the cord and potentially causing a fire hazard.
Electrical Shock: Damaged or overheated cords increase the risk of electrical shock to users.
Appliance Damage: Insufficient power supply due to inadequate cords can lead to underperformance or damage to the rice cooker’s heating elements.
Fire Risk: The most severe risk is the potential for fire if the cord overheats and ignites nearby materials.

Q: How can I safely use an extension cord with my rice cooker in a temporary cooking setup (e.g., outdoor events)?

A: For safe use in temporary cooking setups:
Use a Short, Heavy-Duty Cord: Choose a cord that is just long enough to reach from the power source to the appliance and is rated for outdoor use if necessary.
Ensure Proper Rating: The cord must be capable of handling the rice cooker’s power requirements.
Avoid Exposure to Elements: Keep the cord away from water, direct sunlight, and any path where it could be a tripping hazard.
Direct Connection: Whenever possible, plug the rice cooker directly into the extension cord without daisy-chaining multiple cords.
Safety Inspection: Before use, inspect the cord and the cooker for any damage or wear and ensure all connections are secure.

Using an extension cord with a rice cooker can be safe and efficient when the correct type of cord is selected, and safety guidelines are followed. Always prioritize the appliance’s power requirements and the cord’s safety features to ensure a secure cooking experience.

Conclusion

Concluding our exploration into the use of extension cords with rice cookers, it’s clear that while it is possible to marry convenience with safety, it requires careful consideration and adherence to specific guidelines. The key takeaway is that not all extension cords are created equal, nor are all kitchen setups conducive to their use without foresight. By choosing the right extension cord—considering its gauge, length, and power rating relative to the rice cooker’s requirements—you can mitigate the risks associated with overheating, electrical fires, and underperformance of your appliance.

Safety should always be the paramount concern when introducing an extension cord into your cooking routine. Regular inspection of both the cord and your rice cooker for damage, along with prudent practices such as unplugging the setup when not in use, are simple yet effective steps to ensure a safe kitchen environment. Moreover, the insights provided underscore the importance of using extension cords as a temporary solution rather than a permanent fixture in your culinary space.

For those who find themselves regularly relying on extension cords to power their rice cookers or other appliances, it may be time to consider alternative solutions. Whether it’s rearranging your kitchen for better access to outlets, investing in appliances with longer built-in cords, or consulting with a professional electrician to enhance your kitchen’s electrical infrastructure, there are safer and more efficient paths to culinary convenience.

In essence, while the humble extension cord can indeed bridge the gap between your rice cooker and the nearest outlet, it’s a solution that comes with its own set of responsibilities. Armed with the right knowledge and a cautious approach, you can enjoy the benefits of your rice cooker to its fullest, ensuring that every meal is not only delicious but prepared in a safe and efficient manner.

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Macaria Valerie

About the author

With over 15 years of experience in the culinary world, Macaria Valerie has developed a unique niche expertise in the art and science of rice cooking. Born in Taipei and raised in San Francisco, Macaria's passion for perfectly cooked rice is a blend of her Taiwanese roots and modern culinary techniques. She has traveled across Asia, gathering traditional rice recipes and cooking methodologies. Macaria is not just about plain rice. She's explored the depths of risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, biryani in India, and sushi in Japan. Yet, she believes that the core of these dishes lies in mastering the basic foundation - the rice. In her popular blog, "Expert Reviews Best Rice Cooker", Macaria shares not only her favorite rice recipes but also reviews the latest in rice cooker technology. She's been a consultant for major kitchen appliance brands, aiding in the development and testing of their rice cooker lines. In her spare time, Macaria conducts workshops and classes, ensuring that the art of cooking perfect rice is accessible to everyone. Whether you're aiming for a simple bowl of fluffy white rice or venturing into the intricate world of flavored rice dishes, Macaria Valerie is your go-to guide in the rice cooker niche.

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