Electricity outdoors

Take special care around electricity outdoors. Whether you are working or playing near it, or using electrical equipment, be aware of the dangers.

Overhead Power Lines and Underground Cables
Electricity is supplied to your home through overhead power lines or underground cables. These service lines (or Service Mains) are live and cannot be turned off by your main power switch. If you touch them, or the bare conductors that connect them to the house, you may be seriously injured or killed.

It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that, within the boundary of their property, power lines and cables are maintained in a safe condition. There should be a clearance between power lines and buildings, structures, and trees.

Always plant trees well away from power lines and keep branches trimmed and clear of the lines. Never cut or trim a tree that could fall onto power lines. Before you climb any tree, be sure no power lines run through it or near it. Even if power lines aren’t touching the tree, they could touch it after your weight is added to a branch.

Always locate underground cables and services, such as water, gas and sewer before digging. Always check where overhead power lines and cables are situated before using an object like a pool skimmer or putting up a clothesline, TV antenna, or any tall object near your home. For example, metal ladders are excellent conductors of electricity. Anyone touching a ladder when it is touching a power line could be electrocuted. Wind, uneven ground or reaching to the side while on a ladder could cause it to shift position and you could come into contact with an overhead power line. Keep in mind clearance requirements when undertaking house extensions and renovations, such as installing new windows or building a deck.

Before you do any work near power lines or underground cables, arrange with your power company to identify any problems or disconnect the supply. This work might be painting your house, trimming trees, cleaning guttering, replacing spouting, roofing, repairing chimneys or excavating a property.

Keep clear of power lines when playing with kites or any toys that could touch an overhead power line. Use these toys in an open space such as a field or park.

Using electrical tools and equipment outside
Special precautions are required when using electrical appliances outdoors, or in a damp environment.

Electrical equipment and appliances used outside include electric lawn mowers, weed eaters, water blasters and power tools. It is especially important never to use any damaged leads or appliances outdoors. Never use them in wet conditions. In addition, always use a residual current device (RCD) or an isolating transformer. These protect you from a fatal electric shock by cutting the current in the event of an electrical problem.

Keep children and pets a safe distance away when you operate a mower or any other electrical equipment. Pay particular attention to keeping the cord out of your path or work area so it does not get damaged and cause an electric shock.

Wear strong protective footwear when working with electrical appliances or tools outside. Never wear jandals or bare feet when using electrical appliances outdoors.


Recreational safety

Electrical installations in caravans must be maintained in a safe condition. Always have a current warrant of electrical fitness. You can get one from a licensed electrical inspector.

Only use approved cords, plugs and sockets to hook up your caravan. If you’re using a caravan at home, get a licensed electrical worker to install the right socket for the caravan’s power supply lead.

Always switch off the supply box before plugging in your caravan and check you are disconnected before driving off.

If you want to run appliances under the caravan’s awning, always use an RCD or isolating transformer. If you are using an extension cord take care it does not get damaged.

Store power leads neatly rolled, to avoid kinks or damage. Always completely uncoil power leads before using them.

Boating and water safety
Water makes a good path for electrical currents, so never touch electric switches or wires when you are wet. In addition, whether on the land, or in the water, carefully look around and up before raising or moving yacht masts, oars or fishing poles. A yacht mast, spar, rigging, antenna or flag mast poses potential danger around power lines.

Power lines may cross small bodies of water and launching ramps, so watch out for overhead electric lines near boat, docks and piers.

When hauling, docking or transporting a boat, be sure to remove or lower metal equipment that could come into contact with power lines. Also, when casting your fishing rod, look up for overhead lines.