When the cold winter weather finally gives way to the warmth of the spring and summer, your family will likely be spending more time outdoors. From cookouts to gardening, we’ve got lots of activities that keep us busy, happy, and fulfilled. However, following electrical safety tips whether inside or out helps keep everyone safe. Check out our top list of outdoor electrical safety tips to find out more.

Ensure You Have GFCI Outlets

With the great outdoors comes great weather events. The combination of water and electricity can lead to some serious outcomes, so you need to set your family up for safety. Any outlet outside your home should be GFCI not only to comply with current electrical standards but also to keep your loved ones safe. GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, and it helps prevent electrocution when a fault in the electrical current is detected.

GFCI outlets are pretty easy to identify thanks to their square shape and TEST and RESET buttons. Please note that these outlets are an absolute must for outdoor spaces that feature water, like spas and pools, to help ground electricity when a power surge occurs.

Weatherproof Your Outlets

Apart from having only GFCI outlets outdoors, it’s also good practice to ensure that each outlet is weatherproof. The outlet should be positioned in a waterproof box with a waterproof cover. This will help to keep rainwater and other debris out of the box, preventing damage to the outlet and its users. Additionally, any wiring running outside your home should be in an exterior-rated conduit to ensure optimal protection from nasty weather and the sun’s UV rays.

Only Use Exterior-Rated Electrical Products

Before using any electrical products outdoors, check their rating. Power strips, extension cords, and other electrical devices come in several variations, including ones rated for indoor use, outdoor use, or both indoor and outdoor use. The outside-rated devices are designed to protect against UV damage, water, and the increased wear and tear that comes with being outside. Never use any electrical product outside without first checking its label to ensure it’s designed for outdoor use.

Don’t Overload Your Outlets

As you spend more time outdoors, you might find yourself plugging in various appliances and devices, but you need to be sure you’re not overloading your outlets. Overloaded outlets can be major fire hazards. Instead, talk to an electrician about adding more outlets to the exterior of your home. An electrician can install outlets in the best location for your convenience, eliminating the need for extension cords and power strips. You can place outlets everywhere you need regular power, including outdoor dining and cooking areas and pools.

Trim Your Trees

Check your power lines before your family heads out for outdoor activities around your home. If you notice that the electrical weatherhead is broken or any other structural problems, schedule a repair immediately.

Storms can also knock branches and limbs off otherwise healthy plants, sending them directly onto the power lines, which could disconnect them from the power source and increase the risk of a deadly accident. If you have any branches, shrubbery, or other debris overhanging the lines, contact an expert tree service to remove it. This is not a DIY job as it can be dangerous.

Inspect Your Electrical Cords

The electrical cords that you use outside, both extension cords and cords attached to your appliances, are exposed to water, UV radiation, and wildlife. Over time, they may end up getting chewed on by animals or damaged by the sun. Check all of your outside electrical cords at least once a month. Look for any exposed wiring, cracking, discoloration, and loose plug ends. As soon as you see a problem with your wiring, disconnect it and replace it.

Avoid Activities Near Power Lines

Power lines can be extremely dangerous for those who come into contact with them. Do yourself a favor and make areas around your home that have power lines a no-go area. Flying a kite, climbing up a tree, and similar activities should be avoided in these areas. The beginning of summer is a great time to remind your children of the dangers that come with electricity and the areas of your home that they should avoid to stay safe.

Opt for Fiberglass Ladders

The beautiful summer weather means that many people opt to complete those necessary home renovation and maintenance projects. When you use a ladder, check that you’re not near any of the power lines going into your home. A good rule of thumb is to only purchase fiberglass ladders instead of metal. Fiberglass doesn’t conduct electricity. So, if you accidentally bump your ladder into a power line while moving around your lawn, you won’t get electrocuted.

Call 811 Before Digging

When it comes to home improvement projects, many of them can include digging down into the ground. Whether you are adding an irrigation system or pouring concrete, you need to ensure that you’re careful where you dig. Call 811 before commencing your digging project. This will allow the local utility companies to come out and mark where the utility lines are underground so that you can avoid digging anywhere near them.

Keep Appliances Out of Wet Areas

If you have a pool, hot tub, or spa at your property, take precautions when it comes to your appliances. You should never have any appliances near these wet areas as it can greatly increase your risk of getting electrocuted. Furthermore, only dry people should interact with your outdoor appliances. You never want to have anyone plugging something in when their body is wet as it’s highly dangerous.

Have a Fire Extinguisher Handy

Fire pits can turn ordinary summer evenings into something extraordinary. From smores to fireside chats, people love gathering around a fire, but fires can get out of control quickly. Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand. If your fire pit is electrical, then you’ll want to avoid addressing any fires with a garden hose.

Instead, look for a fire extinguisher that is rated to handle electrical and combustible fires. A fire extinguisher with an ABC rating will cover most household fires. Be sure your family and guests know where the fire extinguisher is, and keep it close to any areas where you’re likely to need it. Buy multiple, if necessary, to guarantee you have the fire protection you need.

Get an Electrical Safety Inspection

Your local electrician should perform a safety inspection of your home’s exterior periodically. They have experience and knowledge to help them readily identify dangerous areas that the average homeowner might miss. A safety inspection provides that extra peace of mind when it comes to enjoying family events outside. Ask us about our electrical panel services!

Expert Electrician Service

Golden Rule offers expert electrician services for the entire Des Moines, IA region. We can also help with all your cooling, heating, and plumbing needs. Contact our friendly staff today to schedule your next service appointment.

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