Outdoor Safety

Whether your outdoor plans include work or play, always keep safety top of mind.

On this page:

Yard and Garden Safety
Around the Pool
Extension Cord Use

Yard and Garden Safety

  • Look up and look out! Are you trimming trees, cleaning eavestroughs or inspecting the roof? This might bring you close to overhead powerlines. Be aware of where they cross your yard, and keep your ladder or pruner at least three metres (10 feet) away. When cleaning eavestroughs or doing roof work, stay away from the service mast attached to your home. When you move a ladder, always carry it sideways, not upright. More powerline safety at home tips; 
  • Call before you dig. Contact Ontario One Call to mark where electrical cables are buried. Do this before any major digging for deck supports, fence posts and other projects; 
  • Safely plug in power tools outside. See extension cord information below; and
  • Hydro poles are for power...period. Don’t mount satellite receivers or clotheslines on them. Don't post "lost pet" or garage sale signs on them. Don't use them as a trellis for climbing vines.

Around the Pool

  • Water and electricity don’t mix! All outdoor outlets should have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). This is especially important around the pool. They should also have weatherproof covers to prevent moisture from getting in; and
  • Poolside is no place for electrical equipment. Keep all electronics well back of the water.

Extension Cord Use

Extension cords are a convenient way to bring power to your backyard, deck, dock or campsite. However, safety shortcuts could turn your plans upside down. Follow the principle of "right cord, right place, right use" to stay safe.

Right Cord

Pick the right extension cord for your needs and don’t “make do” with the wrong one: 

  • When outdoors, only use extension cords rated for outdoor use. These are designed to resist outdoor conditions. Don’t take the shortcut of using an indoor cord or power bar even for a short time. It could cause a shock, electrocution or a fire, and it's a violation of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code;
  • Check the power capacity of your cord to be sure it’s the same or greater than the item you’re planning to plug in. Don’t make do with a lower-capacity cord. For electric power tools, be sure to use a heavy-duty extension cord;
  • Don’t string multiple extension cords together. Not only is it unsafe, but it will also reduce their power capacity. Your electronic tools or gadgets won’t work properly;
  • Always use grounded (three-pronged) cords and never remove the grounding pin from the plug. It’s there to protect you. If you have an old two-pronged extension cord hanging around, it’s time to toss it out; and
  • If you’re using a cord for the first time this season, do a careful check to be sure it’s in good condition. Extension cords stored outdoors in the winter can crack. This could result in a shock, electrocution or fire.

Right Place

  • Plug your grounded outdoor extension cord into an electrical outlet installed to meet the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. The outlet should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). If the outlet isn’t GFCI protected, get a portable GFCI outlet adapter at your local home improvement retailer or hardware store; and
  • Never run extension cords through doors or windows even for a short time. The cord can quickly become damaged from rubbing against the door or window edges or being pinched in the frame.

Right Use

  • Don’t use outdoor extension cords as long-term power sources. The longer they’re left out, the more risk there is of damage or wear. If you need ongoing power on your deck, dock, or yard, hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Have the contractor install permanent outdoor wiring and outlets. Find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you;
  • Never bury extension cords or electrical conductors in the ground. Only specially rated underground conductors can be buried. This must be done to meet the Ontario Electrical Safety Code;
  • Don’t staple extension cords in place or run them over nails, which can damage the cord; and
  • Use only electrical appliances and tools rated for outdoor use.