Tackling Outdoor Projects Safely

A freshly mown lawn, colorful flowers and a stone path can give your yard some serious curb appeal. Before making improvements to your yard by planting flowers, trimming bushes or installing a new water feature, make sure you are doing so safely.

Even professional contracted workers are not immune to electrical accidents, and it is important to keep safety in mind. Preparing for the job is important part of tackling an outdoor project safely.

Check the condition of cords before each use. Look for fraying or cracking along the entire length of the cord and for damage to the plug or sockets. Replace any damaged extension cords or tools.

Be sure to only use extension cords rated for outdoor use, and remember to unplug them when not in use. Extension cords are designed for temporary use only. When purchasing an extension cord or power tool, only buy products that have been certified by a recognized safety laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory, ETL or CSA.

If it is raining or the ground is wet, do not use electric power or yard tools. Always store power tools and extension cords in dry areas. Replace any that get damaged by water.

To help prevent electric shock, make sure outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).

Keep equipment and yourself at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. Never trim trees near power lines — leave that to the professionals.

If you are planting a tree in your yard, select a planting location that will not interfere with utility lines. Tree branches can interfere with overhead power lines, and roots can do the same with underground utilities.

When a project requires any sort of digging, such as planting flowers or building fence, be sure to call 811 to have underground public utilities marked before you dig. Hitting an underground line can cause serious injury, disrupt service to you and your neighbors, and can be expensive to repair.