Cottage Safety Tips
Follow these tips for opening your cottage each spring to ensure your electrical system operates safely.
When you arrive:
- Look for damage to powerlines leading to your cottage. Stay clear of downed or sagging lines, and contact your local utility immediately.
- Advise your utility if the trees appear to be too close to the powerlines (within one metre).
- If you own the hydro poles and powerlines on your property, contact a professional to trim trees that are within one metre of powerlines.
- If you see there is a transformer on a pole (it looks like a small garbage can), the powerline that feeds this transformer is a high voltage power line so the branches must be trimmed so they are at least four meters away from the powerline.
Before turning the power on at the main switch:
- Check that all wiring around your cottage that runs exterior equipment such as water pumps, etc. is intact. If it’s damaged, remove the associated fuse or turn off the circuit breaker and contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
- Make sure all appliances or electrical devices are unplugged or switched off and make sure there is no debris on stove-top elements or base board heaters.
- Fill the hot water tank.
- Check all appliance and extension cords for signs of damage or wear – especially cracking or rodent damage.
- Check that the chimney for your electric furnace is clear of debris (i.e. bird's nests, leaves etc.).
- Ensure all branch circuits are in the "off" position in your electrical panel. After you turn on the main switch, turn them on one at a time to avoid surges that can damage your appliances. If you have a fuse box, simply plug in or switch on appliances and electrical devices one at a time.
- Doing electrical work? Arrange for an application for inspection with the Electrical Safety Authority for any electrical installation you are planning. ESA recommends that you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do electrical work in your home or cottage.
- Get protected. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are required for all circuits that supply outdoor appliances and tools, especially around the water. Outdoor outlets must have covers that protect them from the elements. GFCIs are also required for outlets located in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Using extension cords? Remember, they’re intended for temporary use only; permanent wiring is the safest option.
- cords are rated for interior and exterior use – make sure you buy and use the right one for the job.
- never remove the third prong – it’s there for your safety
- discard any cords that heat up when in use or are cracked, pinched, frayed or show other damage
- keep outdoor cords dry and protected from the elements
- Darn, there goes that fuse again! Call a Licensed Electrical Contractor if fuses repeatedly blow and circuits frequently trip.
- Generator safety – If you’re buying and installing a portable standby generator, ESA recommends you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to install your generator. Read more generator safety tips here.
Getting your cottage’s electrical system ready for winter can help make spring opening safer and smoother. Here are some tips for closing your cottage safely:
- Turn off individual breakers before flipping the main switch. This will help protect your major appliances including your pump and hot water tank when you power up in the spring.
- If you have a fuse panel, unplug or switch off all appliances and electrical devices before you switch off the main power.
- Store all extension cords in rodent-proof containers or consider storing them at home where they won’t be subject to freezing temperatures which can cause them to crack.
- Walk around your property to see if trees are starting to grow in too close to overhead powerlines. Remember in the winter, evergreen branches hang much lower due to snow loading. Hire a professional to trim trees if you own the hydro poles on your property, or advise your utility if the poles are theirs.
If you’re planning to leave your electricity on over the winter, you should:
- Switch off the breakers at your main panel for the circuits that supply power to your major appliances including your pump and hot water heater. If you have a fuse panel, unplug these major appliances.
- Switch off the breakers at your main panel that supply power to any space heaters. If you have a fuse panel, unplug all space heaters. Otherwise they may turn on during cold weather.
- Avoid the temptation to rely on space heaters in the pump pit for water systems that can’t be completely drained – unattended temporary space heaters represent a fire hazard.
- Consider taking advantage of emerging technology such as remote control systems that monitor for flooding, freezing and fire as well as operate security lighting, control thermostat. Some come with video systems that monitor for property security as well as snow loading.
Infographic: Cottage Closing Electrical Safety Tips
(click on the image to enlarge)
If you had your local utility disconnect the power to your dwelling for more than six months, you are required to have an ESA inspection before your local utility can restore power.