Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips
Whether your outdoor plans include chores or leisure, always keep safety top of mind.
- Look up! Look out! Trimming trees, cleaning eaves troughs or inspecting the roof can bring you close to overhead powerlines. Be aware of where they cross your yard and keep you and your ladder or pruner at least three meters away. Also, avoid working near the service mast attached to your home when cleaning eavestrough or doing roof work. When you move a ladder, always carry it horizontally, not vertically. More powerline safety at home tips.
- Call before you dig. Contact Ontario One Call to mark where electrical cables are buried before you do any major digging for deck supports, fence posts and other projects.
- Plug in power tools safely outside. See extension cord information below.
- Hydro poles are for power...period. Don’t mount satellite receivers or clotheslines on them; post lost-pet or garage sale signs; or use them as a trellis for climbing vines.
- Water and electricity don’t mix! All outdoor outlets should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) – especially around the pool. They should also have weatherproof covers to prevent moisture from getting in.
- Remember, poolside is no place for electrical equipment – keep all electronics well back.
Extension cords are a convenient way to bring power to your backyard, deck, dock, or campsite but if you take safety short cuts you could turn your plans upside down. Follow the simple principle of ‘right cord, right place, right use’ to stay safe.
Pick the right extension cord for your needs and don’t ‘make do’ with the wrong one:
- When outdoors, use only those extension cords rated for outdoor use. They are designed to resist outdoor wear and conditions. Don’t take the shortcut of using an indoor cord or power bar even for a short period of time – it could cause a shock, electrocution or a fire, and it’s a violation of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
- Check the power capacity of your cord to ensure it’s the same or greater than the item you’re planning to plug in. Don’t make do with a lower-capacity cord. For electric power tools, be sure to use a heavy duty extension cord.
- Don’t string multiple extension cords together. Not only is it unsafe, but it will also reduce their power capacity and your electronic tools or gadgets won’t work properly.
- Always use grounded (three-pronged) cords and never remove the grounding pin from the plug. It’s there to protect you. If you have an old two-pronged extension cord hanging around, don’t use it in a pinch. It’s time to toss it out.
- If you’re using a cord for the first time this season do a careful check to ensure it’s in good condition. Extension cords stored outdoors in the winter can crack, which could result in a shock, electrocution or fire.
- Plug your grounded outdoor extension cord into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected electrical outlet that has been installed in accordance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. If the outlet isn’t GFCI protected, you can get a portable GFCI outlet adapter at your local home improvement retailer or hardware store.
- Never run extension cords through doors or windows even for a short period of time. The cord can quickly become damaged from rubbing against the door and window edges or pinched in the frame.
- Don’t use outdoor extension cords as long-term power sources. The longer they’re left out, the more risk there is of damage or wear. If you need ongoing power on your deck, dock, or yard have permanent outdoor wiring and outlets installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you.
- Never bury extension cords or electrical conductors in the ground. Only specially rated underground conductors can be buried and it must be done in accordance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
- Don’t staple extension cords in place or run them over nails because the cord can easily be damaged.
- Use only electrical appliances and tools that are rated for outdoor use.