Electrical safety outside is just as important as it is inside the home. Working with power tools, trimming hedges and cooking on electric barbecues all pose risks, so before you use outdoor electrical products, run through this outside wiring safety checklist.

Outdoor Outlets

Only outlets that fit three-pronged electrical plugs are safe for outdoor use, so don't remove the third prong from a plug to make it fit an outdoor outlet. Older, two-pronged outlets should be replaced. Outdoor outlets should be covered with a weatherproof shield to prevent rainwater from seeping inside.

Circuit breakers can prevent many outdoor electrical accidents. Circuit breakers alone may not be enough protection. Ask an electrician to fit a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) to each outdoor outlet around your home.

Extension Cords

If you need an extension cord to connect a power tool with an outlet, be sure that the cord you use has been approved by a known testing authority such as UL, Intertek, or CSA. You also want to check the amperage rating on the cord. It should be able to handle more electricity than the product requires. Use only outdoor extension cords outside the home, use them as a temporary measure and don't overburden them.

It's also important not to attach one extension cord to another. When you've finished using the cord, unplug it and store it indoors so it doesn't get damaged by the elements.

Electrical Equipment

Using electrical equipment outside that isn't for outdoor use or that's damaged can lead to accidents.

  • Check that the tool is labeled for outdoor use and that the wiring and plug aren't frayed or damaged.
  • Don't use electrical tools outdoors when it's raining.
  • If the cord overheats while you're using the equipment, turn off the tool and unplug it.
  • Store tools for outdoor use indoors.
  • Don't use power tools near gasoline or a source of flammable fumes, where a spark could ignite a fire.
  • If you have a hot tub, a swimming pool or spa, have them inspected annually to be sure the electrical systems work properly.
  • Before digging, call your power company to make sure you stay clear of power lines.

To avoid accidents, electrical shocks, or fires, ask a qualified electrician to check your outdoor outlets and upgrade them if needed. Contact Ragsdale to speak to an expert advisor.

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