As summer approaches, warm weather means spending more time outdoors. This also means using plenty of electricity, from lights to smokers and everything in between. Electricity can certainly add to your outdoor experience, but it needs to be handled with respect. Here are a few backyard electrical safety tips to help you stay safe.
Check all of your GFCI Outlets
GFCI Outlets are designed to help keep you safe in places where water is likely to get on the outlets. They are required by law in the bathroom, as well as outdoors. You can help keep your outdoor parties and other activities safe by testing your GFCI outlets at least once a month.
If your cord is too short to reach the outlet and you need an extension cord, you can help improve safety by cutting slots the width of the cord into a cheap Tupperware and using the Tupperware to keep where the cords connect from getting wet.
Be prepared for rain
Do not use electrical appliances when it is raining and go inside or otherwise seek shelter if there is a thunderstorm. While seeking shelter, avoid touching metal items such as golf clubs or baseball bats, or water.
Do not go swimming in an outdoor pool during a thunderstorm and keep outlets safe by making sure they have an outdoor weather cover to protect them.
Check for damage
Do not use any damaged electrical devices and inspect cords for fraying. You should also check the prongs on your extension cord. Avoid using any extension cord that has the third prong removed, as that prong grounds the device. Without this third prong, any electrical items you are using will be unsafe.
Never use any electrical device if it has been rained on or gotten wet. Water is an excellent conductor, and you could get an unexpected shock even if everything appears to be working properly.
Call 811 before you dig
If your summer plans include putting in a new pool, pond, or even fence posts, call 811 first. 811 can tell you if there are underground electrical wires running below your lawn. Dig only after calling to find out if it is safe first, otherwise you could cause significant damage.
Don’t fly toys near powerlines
It’s also important to keep children safe from electrical hazards in the backyard. Avoid flying kites, drones, and other flying devices near powerlines. If a kite or plane does get snagged in a powerline, leave it there. It can be very dangerous to retrieve it.
Take the time to educate kids about electricity. Kids should know not to go near live wires, or any wire that could potentially be live. They should know not to play near electrical substations, and to go inside if there is a thunderstorm.
Summer is a fun time to spend with family, enjoy the warm weather, and barbecue. Electricity can make many of our favorite summer past times better, but it needs to be treated with respect. These safety tips will help you get the most out of your summer electrical use, safely.