Late summer and early fall often find many of us working outdoors before the weather turns colder, but these outdoor chores require caution, especially around electricity. Faulty extension cords are a common source of injury, as are metal ladders coming in contact with overhead power lines.

Here are a few safety tips to follow when working outside:

Ladders

  • Use fiberglass or wooden ladders when working around overhead wires or other electrical sources. Metal ladders conduct electricity and can kill anyone who is touching the ladder if it comes into contact with electricity.
  • If you must use a metal ladder, carefully check the location of all overhead power lines to avoid contacting the wire or touching the ladder to something that touches the electrical source, such as a tree branch.
  • Lower a ladder before carrying or moving it.
  • Never work on a windy day, as a gust of wind could shift a ladder into an overhead power line.
  • When placing a ladder on the ground, make sure the distance to the nearest overhead power line is at least twice the length of the ladder.
  • Make sure to place a ladder on stable, level ground to prevent sliding.

Extension Cords and Power Tools

  • Check power tools and electrical cords to make sure they are in good repair, and only use power tools outside that are designed for outdoor use.
  • Extension cords should also be designed for outdoor use. They are thicker, more durable, and have features for preventing moisture damage.
  • Always use three-wire extension cords with three-pronged plugs.
  • Check the amperage rating of the extension cord to make sure it’s large enough to meet the power demand of the tool.
  • Do not plug one extension cord into another. Use the proper length for the job.
  • Unplug extension cords when you are finishing using them. Never leave an open extension cord plugged into an outlet.