With May being Electrical Safety Month, we feel it’s important to highlight some of the dangers associated with outdoor electrical wiring. Lighting your home is a fantastic way to add value and beauty to your home. But it isn’t just the lights that you have to be cautious around, any cables needed to power those lights can become an instant hazard if you aren’t careful. When setting up outdoor lighting, whether it’s for beauty or general security, it’s important to keep these two things in mind:
- Use Low Voltage Wiring When Possible
For any cables or wires that are run on or near the surface, use low-voltage wiring. While it has its own difficulties for larger systems, low-voltage wiring is safer in the event of cable damage. A low voltage wire is unlikely to cause severe injury when it is cut or nicked by yard equipment or chewed through by smaller animals.
- Use Equipment Rated for the Outdoors
Always use fixtures, extension cords, light bulbs, and connections that are rated for the outdoors. In many cases, this means you need to double check the Ingress Protection (IP) rating of the device you’re using. Make sure that anything laying on or in the ground is rated for water and heavy weather. Keep items well insulated against damage and make sure that no exposed connections are left when you’re done.
Staying Safe While Landscaping
Whether it’s general yardwork or serious landscaping, take the time to keep yourself safe around electrical devices while working. Always stay aware of the area you’re working in and where you have lighting or other electrical gear run while working.
Moving Equipment – Watch out for transmission lines while moving ladders or other tall objects. A single careless move can lead to severe injury when working around high-wire lines. If a tree branch is in danger of falling on or near transmission lines, call for assistance in removing the limb.
Trimming and Mowing – This is why it’s best to use low-voltage lighting around your home when possible. A single moment when your attention slips or a day when you aren’t thinking straight can lead to a lawnmower grabbing a surface electric line or a hedge trimmer snagging on lighting in a bush. Always make sure you know exactly where any cables are running and be sure to turn off power before beginning work.
Digging or Trenching – While you should be aware of the location of cables you’ve buried, always call 811 before digging in your yard. Any buried cables, gas pipes, or sewer lines can lead to more than just a bad day. Expensive damages, gas leaks, and electrical shocks are all scenarios you want to avoid so be sure to call before you dig, every time.
Use a GFCI for Powered Equipment – Always use a GFCI outlet for powered gardening tools. Any electric tools that you’re working with should either feature a GFCI on the plug or be plugged into an external outlet with a circuit interrupter. GFCI units are safety devices designed to prevent serious injury or damage in the case of a ground fault.
Avoid Water – Stay away from any pooling water, especially if it’s near lights, cables, or outlets. Even when your breaker is powered down or the outlet is protected, if you’re working outside, avoid standing in puddles near electrical equipment whenever possible.