Summer – the long-awaited season with its carefree days and bare skin, which is often covered with Band-Aids from the inevitable boo-boos that come with cramming as much fun into those sun-filled days as possible.
If you thought that mosquito bites, sunburn and stubbing a toe from walking in bare feet could be the only calamities to worry about this summer… well, you’re sorely mistaken.
There are many dangers lurking in the backyard besides those pesky mosquitoes to be sure. Here’s a brief rundown on how to be more aware of potential electrical hazards this summer season before you set foot in the backyard. Here is your checklist:
Check your power outlets. The United States Consumer Power Safety Commission (“CPSC”) recommends you check the integrity of any outside outlets annually. Each outlet should have its own weatherproof outlet cover and it should always be latched tightly when not in use. If you must use it during wet weather, use what is called a “weatherproof while in use” cover to keep the outlet dry while the cord is plugged in. When performing the annual check for outlet integrity, you should ensure each of your outlets is powered by a ground fault circuit interrupter (also referred to as a “GFCI switch”), which turns itself off if it senses a current leak or a short circuit, thus avoiding a potential electrical disaster.
Use the proper extension cord. When choosing an electrical cord to be used with electric garden tools, or for such items such as fountains or mood lighting, be sure to use extension cords that are rated for outdoor use only because indoor cords cannot withstand the weather conditions when they’re used outdoors, and may become a fire or shock hazard. The CPSC states that an average of 3,000 or more residential fires originate from improper extension cord use yearly.
Check the electric grill before everyone is gathered around for dinner! Though you might have tossed the occasional hamburger or hot dog onto the grill over the winter months, given this past wintry weather you probably scurried right back into the house to eat that grilled treat and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the grill. Since nothing tastes as good as that first BBQ’d meal of the season, take the time to do a thorough inspection of the grill before you fire it up. Check the controls to ensure they are not too loose and the cord and prong fit properly in the outlet.
Inspect all electric garden tools annually. This is to ensure that there is no cord damage, such as cracks or exposed wires. If a prong becomes bent, never force it to go into an outlet. The smarter choice would be to purchase a new cord or have the tool’s cord repaired professionally. To avoid electrical shock, avoid using corded power tools in wet or damp locations and wherever possible buy and use tools with insulated grips to avoid the potential of electric shock.
Tree trimming and property maintenance. Why do people feel when the weather is warmer, that they simply must do all the yard work at one time? Don’t they remember how sore they were from last year? By the time you get to the biggest projects you are pooped. Then sometimes you get sloppy in your actions. Although most energy companies recommend having a professional tackle your large tree trimming, especially when those limbs are near a power line, you can carefully trim away unruly branches or limbs to keep them from tangling in power lines during a storm. The secret is to raise your ladder or pole cutter carefully, ensuring that you are at least ten feet from any power line. Your equipment, should it come in contact with a live wire, will act as a conductor and you will be electrocuted. Pick a clear day with no threat of inclement weather when you want to trim the trees. Do not climb the ladder with electrical tools in your hands and use a wooden or fiberglass ladder rather than a metal model to eliminate the chance of the ladder conducting electricity.
Call the federally mandated national number for “Ms. Dig”, or 811, to speak with a local call center so that an electrical crew can be dispatched to identify any and all underground utility lines before inadvertently digging somewhere you should not be digging when planting new bushes or trees. It’s really the best way to make sure you don’t inadvertently dig into a utility line while planting a tree or shrub, or even when installing a deck or pool.
Pools – the way to go. And, speaking of pools, you should conduct a thorough search of yours and the surrounding areas before the first time you use it in the warm weather. To be on the safe side, why not have a licensed electrician inspect your pool and all electrical wires and junction boxes at the same time? In the event of an emergency it is also important to know where all electrical switches and circuit breakers are located. It is important to have a detailed emergency plan posted near your pool in the event of electric shock to one of the persons in the pool. Always keep any electrical cords at least five feet from the water. Never swim or be near water during or after a thunderstorm.
When it comes to electrical safety, it is always better to be proactive and careful when around electricity. If you have any other common home remodeling questions we recommend that you take a look here to read more about safety around the home as well as how to do proper home maintenance.