Cottage Safety


Electrical safety tips on this page:

General Electrical Safety

  • Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) to do electrical work in your cottage.
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) for all circuits that supply outdoor appliances and tools, especially around water sources, as well as in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Outdoor outlets must have covers that protect them from the elements. 
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. It is safer to have an LEC install permanent wiring and outlets. Find an LEC near you. 
  • Contact an LEC to find out why fuses repeatedly blow or circuits frequently trip.
  • Are you buying a standby generator? ESA recommends you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to install it. More generator safety tips here.

Video: Cottage Electrical Safety Tips

Cottage Opening Tips

Follow these tips to make sure your electrical system operates safely when you first open your cottage for the season.

When you arrive:

  • Look for damage to powerlines leading to your cottage. If you see downed or sagging lines, stay clear and contact your local utility immediately.
  • If trees appear to be too close to the powerlines (within one metre), tell your utility. If you own the hydro poles and powerlines on your property, contact a professional to trim the trees.
  • If there is a transformer on a pole (it looks like a small garbage can), there will be a powerline that feeds this transformer, and it is high voltage. Trim any branches so they are at least four meters away from the powerline.

Before you turn on the power at the main switch:

  • Check that all wiring that runs exterior equipment (such as water pumps) is intact. If it’s damaged, remove the associated fuse or turn off the circuit breaker, and contact a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
  • Unplug or switch off all appliances or electrical devices. Clear debris from stovetop elements and baseboard heaters.
  • Fill the hot water tank.
  • Check all appliance and extension cords for signs of damage or wear. Watch out for cracking or rodent damage.
  • Check that the chimney for your electric furnace is clear of debris, such as bird's nests and leaves.
  • Ensure all branch circuits in your electrical panel are in the "off" position. 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, plug in or switch on appliances and electrical devices one at a time.
Cottage Safety Tips
Click on open Cottage Safety Tips infographic


Cottage Closing Tips

Getting your cottage’s electrical system ready for winter can help make spring opening safer and smoother.

Here are some tips for closing your cottage safely:

  • Turn off individual breakers before flipping the main switch. This helps protect your major appliances (including your pump and hot water tank) when you power up in the spring.
  • If you have a fuse panel, unplug or switch off all appliances and electrical devices before you switch off the main power.
  • Store all extension cords in rodent-proof containers. Alternatively, consider storing them at home where they won’t be subject to freezing temperatures, which can cause them to crack.
  • Walk around your property to see if trees are starting to grow too close to overhead powerlines. Remember that evergreen branches hang much lower in the winter due to snow and ice. If you own the hydro poles on your property, hire a professional to trim the trees. If your utility owns the poles, let them know.

If you plan to leave your electricity on over the winter:

  • Switch off the breakers at your main panel that supply power to any space heaters. (If you have a fuse panel, simply unplug all space heaters.) Otherwise, they may turn on during cold weather.
  • Do not rely on space heaters in the pump pit for water systems that can’t be completely drained. Unattended temporary space heaters are a fire hazard.
  • Consider new technology such as remote control systems that allow you to check for flooding, freezing and fire, as well as operate security lighting and control the thermostat. Some come with video systems that monitor for property security and snow loading. 
Cottage Closing
Click to open Cottage Closing Tips Infographic


Power Disconnections

Did your local utility disconnect the power to your dwelling more than six months ago? You must have an ESA inspection before your local utility can restore power.