Summer is fast approaching, and nothing is better than relaxing by the pool or having a backyard BBQ with family and friends. As many of us begin to spend more time outdoors during warmer weather, it’s important to understand the common outdoor electrical hazards present around many homes. Follow these tips to ensure your home and family are protected.
1. Ensure You Have GFCI Protection
The National Electrical Code mandates that all outdoor outlets use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles to protect against electrical shock. These outlets quickly detect changes in electrical current and will trip and disrupt power, potentially saving you from serious injury. If any of your outdoor outlets are damaged, have them replaced by a licensed electrician.
All of your outdoor electrical outlets should also have weatherproof covers. Whether the outlets are on the deck or the side of the home, covers should remain closed when not in use. Ensure everything is unplugged and the covers are securely fastened if storms are on the way.
2. Never Approach a Downed Power Line
Thunderstorms often bring down electrical power lines. Assume that any downed power line is live and dangerous. Call 911 and your local utility company immediately if you have a downed power line on your property or street.
3. Inspect Your Power Tools
Regularly inspect outdoor power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs, and cracked or broken housing and repair or replace damaged items. Avoid using corded power tools in damp conditions. Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.
4. Use the Right Extension Cord
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), about 3,300 residential fires are started annually by extension cords, killing or injuring hundreds of people each year. Purchase extension cords designed specifically for outdoor use with a safety rating certified by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Cords rated for outdoor use are thicker and have additional insulating material to keep water from reaching the wiring.
5. Practice Ladder Safety
Use extra caution when using a ladder near power lines as you do repair work or maintenance around your home. Keep all tools and ladders at least 10 feet away from power lines.
6. Call Before You Dig
Many utilities are buried underground including electrical lines. Before you dig, remember to place a call to 811 to have your underground utilities marked. This service is offered at no cost and can prevent costly and potentially dangerous accidents from occuring.
7. Practice Swimming Pool Safety
Water and electricity should never mix. Whether in your backyard or a community pool, it’s essential to take safety precautions around water.
- If you’re installing a swimming pool or hot tub, be sure it’s installed a safe distance from overhead power lines.
- Make sure a licensed electrician oversees the installation. This ensures that your pool or spa meets local code requirements and passes inspection.
- Use GFCIs to protect against electrical shock. All outdoor electrical receptacles should be kept covered and dry.
- Keep all electrical appliances and devices at least 6 feet away from water.
- Never touch electrical devices when wet.
- Never swim before, during, or immediately after a thunderstorm.
8. Be Careful with Outdoor Toys
Electricity can travel down the strings of balloons or kites that contact power lines and cause shock or fire. Drones, model airplanes, and kites should only be used in open areas, well away from overhead power lines.
9. Know Where Your Electrical Panel Is
If there’s an electrical problem in your home, it’s essential to know where your electrical panel is located and how to shut the power off in a hurry. Most panels are located in garages, basements, or utility rooms. Make sure that your electrical panel is clear of obstructions and easily accessible in an emergency.
Call a Local Trusted Electrician
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, problems with electrical systems spark an estimated 24,000 residential fires each year. Call an electrician immediately if you notice outlets that spark or are warm to the touch, lights that flicker, circuit breakers that repeatedly trip, or unusual sounds or odors coming from your electrical system.
When you need electrical work for your home or business, call on Pallardy Electric. We’ve been serving St. Charles and St. Louis counties since 2001. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured for your safety and protection. Call us at (636) 202-1794 to schedule a free estimate.