December 5, 2021
Around the House: Inside Tips for Outdoor Electrical Safety
To combat the dark winter nights, you hang bright holiday decorations. In the spring and summer months you spend more time outdoors barbecuing, enjoying patios and doing yard work. While you enjoy the fresh air in any season, don’t let a dangerous electrical hazard put you or your home at risk.
We want you to be safe when using outdoor electrical appliances, equipment and tools and to steer clear of mother nature’s own brand of electricity – lightning. Here are some tips from the Leviton Institute to keep you safe from the dangers of electricity when you spend time outdoors.
Outdoor Extension and Power Cords
When using electric appliances like leaf blowers, lawnmowers, or hedge trimmers, always use an extension cord that is rated for outdoor use. A cord that’s too long or too thin may not provide the proper amount of current to your appliance and could eventually damage or destroy the motor, overload the cord, and create an unsafe condition.
Check that the outdoor extension cords you’re using are rated for the amperage you need. The proper amperage required by most tools and appliances is usually displayed somewhere on them.
Check all power cords and extension cords for cracks or nicks before using them. If they show obvious signs of wear like taped-over cuts, broken plugs, etc., replace them with new ones. When you’re finished using your cords, always store them safely.
Standing on Shaky Ground
How often have you seen a three-pronged (grounding) plug with either the third prong removed, or with all three prongs somehow jammed into a two-pronged extension cord? Plenty of times, no doubt. Never remove the grounding pin from a three-pronged plug. This sort of jury-rigging defeats the proper grounding of the appliance and renders it unsafe.
Check that the appliance you’re using is rated for outdoor use. Most products rated for outdoor use are weather resistant to some degree but those that aren’t could become dangerous after a brief sprinkle or possibly even after a dewy night.
Electric BBQ Grill Tips
It may seem obvious, but nevertheless it needs to be said: do not barbecue on an outdoor electric BBQ grill when it’s raining, or even just drizzling. Be sure to unplug the grill before cleaning it, and, as with all outdoor appliances, make sure the receptacle it’s plugged into is equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shock or electrocution. GFCI outlets are the ones that have the two buttons on them and will reset if they experience a surge.
When setting up your grill, pick a safe location where there’s no chance of it setting anything combustible alight. Keep it unplugged when not in use to save electricity.
With all the water in and around them, pools, hot tubs, and spas are dangerous areas for appliances and consumer electronics. Keep all radios, TVs, blenders, etc. clear of splashing or dripping water, and install GFCI equipped outlets. If an electrical appliance falls into the water, shut off the circuit first before unplugging it. Don’t reach into the water to get it.
You may have heard that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. Unfortunately, it does, and it strikes twice as often on tall buildings. In total, lightning strikes around 20 million times a year in the United States.
If you see a storm approaching while you’re outside, take shelter indoors. If that’s not possible, get to a low area away from trees and crouch down. If you hear thunder seek shelter, even under a clear blue sky.
If you’re swimming in a pool, lake or the ocean, immediately swim to shore and find cover. If you’re in a watercraft, immediately get to shore. Don’t wait till the storm is on top of you; lightning can travel sideways up to ten miles. Avoid metal items like golf clubs or bats, as well as contact with water, either indoors or out. When indoors, stay away from windows, doors, and corded telephones. And don’t forget your furry pet friends – leaving Fido chained outside or in a doghouse puts him at great risk, too.
Outdoor Gas and Electrical Installation
Applewood’s professional electricians can help with natural gas or electric grill installation and maintenance. We also install safe GFCI outlets for outdoor use. If you need to upgrade your home’s electric to handle new patio appliances or outdoor eqpuipment, we’d be happy to help.
Contact us with your questions. You can count on professional advice from Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric for all your outdoor electrical safety.