Quick and effective outdoor electrical safety check
2nd November 2017
When Daylight Savings arrives, the mercury tips over 30 and the familiar buzz of the cicadas fills the summertime air. We all know it’s time to slap on a singlet and shorts and make the most of the great outdoors.
Summer is all about getting amongst the sunshine.
But it’s not all fun and games. With kids, family and friends running around with drinks in hand and electronics switched on outside - there’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Outdoor entertainment systems open the door to new and exciting activities but improper electrical wiring, damaged cables or placing your electronics too close to water can cause major damage - sometimes even death.
Electrical safety experts, Master Electricians Australia, found on average there are 15 electrocution related deaths in Australia per year with 20 times more hospitalisations.
These accidents are often caused by “do-it-yourself” electrical work.
We want to help you practice outdoor electrical safety. We’ve identified the two most important power sources to include in your outdoor electrical check this year and made a few suggestions to make the process as fast and effective as possible - so you can get on with enjoying the summer sun.
1. Preventing electrical accidents with outdoor wiring and extension cables
It’s so easy to run extension cables from inside the house to move your electronics into the backyard or onto your deck but a tangle of extension leads spells danger.
The trip hazard is the least of your worries.
Indoor extension cables are dangerous outside because they’re exposed to rain, summer storms and even pets or animals nibbling on cords.
Specialist outdoor extension cords are better suited for outdoor entertainment areas.
We recommend popping on an outdoor extension lead safety box to cover your plugs and sockets to avoid any unnecessary accidents. It’s a super quick fix and you’ll be able to pick one up for less than the cost of a carton of beer.
Here are a few things to check off your list if you do plan to use temporary extension cables:
Make sure you’re using outdoor extension cables. Most cables designed for gardens or outdoor entertainment are bright yellow, so they’re hard to miss, but always read the packaging to make sure your cables are made for the elements
Never connect two extension cables. Doubling up on extension cables may seem like a good idea but you’re gambling with your family’s safety.
Keep your cables out of your walkways. Walking all over-extension cables is not only a trip hazard but you will gradually damage your cables - potentially exposing wires to the elements. Run the cables around the walls by your skirtings, and keep them out of danger.
Avoid putting your cables near wet environments. Water and electricity don’t mix. Moisture, humidity and regular thunderstorms are the hallmarks of an Australian summer - so always keep your cables away from pools, fountains, and gardens you water regularly to make sure no electrical wires are exposed to the weather.
Always check for damage or wear and tear. Sometimes even discolouring of the moulded plastic can be a sign of old cables. If your cables are aging and the plastic is splitting, falling off or showing wires - throw them out and buy yourself some new ones immediately.
Outdoor extension cables are fine as a temporary solution but if you want to make sure your family is safe from hazards this summer, consider hiring a qualified, professional electrician to handle your outdoor electrical setup.
2. Use outdoor outlets but make sure you run a few quick safety checks
Outdoor outlets are another safe and convenient way to power sound systems, televisions and lighting for your backyard or deck.
Most outlets have a safety mechanism installed called Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. The mechanism will automatically switch off any plugged-in items as soon as they come into contact with water.
Even though outdoor outlets are safer and more suited for the weather, we still highly recommend running your own frequent safety checks.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
See if your outlet is worn or corroded. A damaged outlet is a dangerous one. If your outdoor outlet is starting to look a little rusty, it’s time to get a new one.
Check to see if the outlet functioning properly. The best way to test your outlet is by plugging in a low amperage appliance (a lamp is a simple, portable option). Most outlets have a TEST/RETEST button which will turn the appliance off and on - if the outlet is working properly. It’s a quick, easy process and vital to maintaining the power of your outlet.
Make sure your outlet cover is intact. If you want to protect your outlet from the weather, check the cover every few weeks to make sure no rain is getting through.
Check your outdoor electricity sources for functionality and damage on a regular basis throughout the spring and summer months. A simple safety check might cost you a few seconds but it could save you or your loved one’s life.
A few fast and simple checks will keep you and your family safe from electrical danger this summer
Outdoor electronics can make your outdoor living and entertainment more comfortable but without proper installation and maintenance - you could be putting your family’s safety at risk.
If you’re thinking of setting up a brand spanking new outdoor entertainment area this summer, consider the safest way you can power your impressive new weatherproof telly or sound system.
Are outdoor extension cables the way to go? Should you install a protected outdoor outlet? Whatever you decide, remember to keep on top of your safety checks and when in doubt, ask your local experts for help.
Need some inspiration for outdoor renos? We’ve got 3 outdoor living area ideas to get you started on your next project!
Want to talk to an expert about home extensions to add value to your Newcastle, Central Coast or Hunter Valley property? Get in touch with the HV Aluminium team today on (02) 49033388.
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