- Inspections. Before the warm weather arrives, have an electrician inspect the pool, spa or hot tub. Make sure all the equipment is in accordance with local codes. Follow up with any necessary upgrades or repairs.
- Locations. All electric circuitry and disconnects need to be at least five feet away from the water. It is also important to know where all electrical switches and circuit breakers are located in case of an emergency.
- Battery-operated devices. Having electronics around the pool can be dangerous. The CPSC recommends you use battery-operated devices around water instead of cord-connected devices.
- Emergency plan. Have a detailed emergency plan posted around the pool, spa or hot tub area. This plan should outline the necessary course of action you should take if someone is suffering from an electric shock.
- Weather ready. Do not swim or hang out near the water before, during or after a thunderstorm. Water and lightning are a dangerous combination.
Outlets, Power Tools and Electrical Cord Safety
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends an annual check of outdoor electrical equipment, including:
- Outlets. Check that each receptacle has its own weatherproof receptacle cover, and keep it closed when not in use. Also, make sure each receptacle is protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which turns itself off if it senses a short circuit. If you must use a receptacle during wet weather, the CPSC suggests a “weatherproof while in use” cover, which keeps a receptacle covered even when a cord is plugged in.
- Electric garden tools. Avoid using corded power tools in wet or damp locations, advises the CPSC. The agency also suggests checking all tools for cord damage, such as cracks or exposed wires, and to make sure they are in good condition and operating properly. Use tools with insulated grips to avoid the potential of electric shock.
- Extension cords. Use only extension cords that are rated for outdoor use; indoor cords can’t withstand the weather conditions when they’re used outdoors, and may become a fire or shock hazard.
Tree Trimming and Landscaping Safety
Most experts advise leaving tree trimming to the professionals, particularly when the tree and its limbs are anywhere near a power line. But if you do plan to do some trimming, here are some safety reminders from the Electrical Safety Foundation International:
- Always look up before raising a ladder or pole to make sure it won’t come within 10 feet of a power line, says the Electrical Safety Foundation International; you do not have to touch a power line to be in danger.
- Use wooden or fiberglass ladders outdoors; metal ladders conduct electricity.
- Do not climb with tools in your hands, and be sure to wear safety equipment at all times.
- Do not trim trees in dangerous weather conditions.
And an important general landscaping reminder: Call 811 before you begin any digging project. A federally mandated national number, 811 will connect you with a local call center that sends out a crew to identify underground utility lines. It’s really the best way to make sure you don’t inadvertently dig into one while planting a tree or shrub, or installing a deck or pool.
Fallen power lines
Never move a fallen power line yourself! Power lines occasionally fall due to impact with a fallen tree, wind or other natural causes. One too many homeowners have tried to move these lines resulting in serious injury or death. Power lines although fallen may still be energized. Never, ever, try and move or repair a fallen power line! Call a qualified electrician or your power company if you see a fallen electrical power line in your area.