Monday, April 4, 2011

Working safely with electricity outdoors

4 Important things to consider before working with electrical devices outdoors.

UL (Underwriters Laboratory) label
Check your electrical devices and any extension cords for a UL label.  The UL Mark means that representative samples of the cord have been tested for foreseeable safety hazards.

Choose the right size extension cord 
Extension cords are labeled with valuable information as to the use, size and wattage rating of the cord.
Is the extension cord designated for outdoor use? -  Be sure to check the label on the cord.  It should clearly state if it is suitable for outdoor use.
Is the extension cord the right size for the tool you will be using? - Just because the extension cord is long enough to reach your work does not mean it’s the right size for the job.  Using an undersized extension cord could cause the cord to overheat and start a fire.  Look closely at the labeling on your extension cord and compare it to the requirements for the tool you will be using.   Here is a handy file with more information on sizing your extension cord.

Protect yourself from shock hazards
Are you plugging the extension cord or tool into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected circuit?  Newer homes were built to electrical codes which require that any receptacle that is located outdoors must be on a GFCI protected circuit.  Older homes did not have this requirement.  If you’re not sure, you can either test the receptacle with a tester or purchase a GFCI protected power cord.  They can be a little pricey but you’re safety is worth the cost.

Inspect your electrical cords and plugs
Check your extension cords and power cords and plugs prior to use.  Be sure there are no cuts or damage to the insulating cover on the cords.  Check plugs to be sure they are not damaged.  Never use a cord with a 3 prong plug that has the round ground pin removed.  This is a safety hazard!

For more information and a list of home improvement classes available to learn more about doing things yourself visit www.workshopforwomen.com

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