wooden cottage by a lake

Open Up the Cottage Safely this Weekend!

Safety Tips for Cottage Opening 

MISSISSAUGA, ON (May 15, 2020) – The first long weekend of the summer is nearly here, and that means many Canadians are gearing up for outdoor activities like barbecuing, home and garden work, camping and boating and opening cottages. This long weekend typically delivers lovely weather and a whole extra day to work through your cottage opening to-do list. While respecting guidelines from the Ontario Government and the Chief Public Health Officer on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in more rural areas, ESA offers some practical safety tips for cottage opening and wants to remind everyone to be proactive with safety.      

When opening your cottage after the winter: 

  • Look for damage to powerlines leading to your cottage. Stay clear of sagging lines and 10 m from downed lines since they may still be energized (Live) and contact your local utility immediately. 
  • Look for damage to the service mast on your cottage. If there is damage, contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor to have this repaired since this belongs to you. 
  • Advise your utility if the trees appear to be too close to their powerlines. 
  • If you own the hydro poles and powerlines on your property, contact a utility arborist to prune branches that are within one metre of powerlines. 

Before turning the power on at the main switch: 

  • Check that all wiring around your cottage that runs exterior equipment such as water pumps, etc. is intact. If it’s damaged, remove the associated fuse or turn off the circuit breaker and contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor. 
  • Make sure all appliances or electrical devices are unplugged or switched off and make sure there is no debris on stove-top elements or base board heaters. 
  • Fill the hot water tank. 
  • Check all appliance and extension cords for signs of damage or wear – especially cracking or rodent damage. 
  • Check that the chimney for your electric furnace is clear of debris (i.e. bird's nests, leaves etc.). 
  • Ensure all branch circuits are in the "off" position in your electrical panel. After you turn on the main switch, turn them on one at a time to avoid surges that can damage your appliances. If you have a fuse box, simply plug in or switch on appliances and electrical devices one at a time. 

Tips for electricity, boathouses and docks at the cottage: 

  • Electric shock can happen anywhere electricity is present – in the boathouse, on the dock itself and in the water. Electrical installations and equipment near water should be checked regularly and maintained to ensure they’re safe and comply with Ontario Electrical Safety Code requirements. 
  • If you suspect an issue with your dock’s electrical system immediately turn off the power at the electrical panel and contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor to check your system. 
  • Never use frayed or damaged cords and make sure all marine cords have a ground pin (i.e. three prongs) to prevent electric shock.  
  • Consider placing signage near your dock warning about the potential for electric current in the water. 
  • To avoid a potential electrical hazard or risk of shock, ensure you have Ground Fault Circuit interrupters (GFCI) for all outlets that supply outdoor appliances and tools, especially near water and test them as required. 
  • For outdoor outlets exposed to the elements, a cover plate marked “Extra Duty” will keep water and debris out and help prevent electrical shocks 

Hiring the right person for electrical work at the cottage: 

  • Working with the right professional will ensure your cottage is an enjoyable and safe retreat. If you’re hiring someone to do electrical work, they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor. 
    • Licensed Electrical Contractors are the only businesses in Ontario legally authorized to do electrical work.  
  • Licensed Electrical Contractors understand the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, are licensed by the Electrical Safety Authority of Ontario and can ensure all electrical components are considered. 
  • If your spring or summer project requires new electrical wiring or devices, or replacing/repairing old ones, you should hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor for your safety and protection. They will ensure the work meets all requirements under Ontario law and will file the necessary notification of electrical work with the Electrical Safety Authority.  

Tips to avoid fraud 

Here are a few ways cottage goers can avoid falling victim to unlicensed contractors: 

  • Ask for an electrician’s ECRA/ESA licence number, it should be on their truck and estimate.  
  • An unlicensed contractor may falsely claim they have a licence number. Always verify an ECRA/ESA licence number or look them up by company name at 
  • Do not trust a contractor if they ask you to file the notification of work (permit) in your name with the Electrical Safety Authority.  
    • Always ask for a copy of the ESA Certificate of Acceptance. If the contractor is not able to produce one, contact ESA and we will look into whether a notification was taken out and address the concerns. 
  • Avoid working with contractors that offer a discount if you pay cash, accept only cash and/or won’t provide a receipt.  

About the Electrical Safety Authority

The Electrical Safety Authority's (ESA’s) role is to enhance public electrical safety in Ontario. As an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, ESA is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety. ESA works extensively with stakeholders throughout the province on education, training and promotion to foster electrical safety across the province.

More information on the Electrical Safety Authority can be found at, through and on Facebook at

Media Enquiries

For further information:
Electrical Safety Authority
905-712-7819 or