The evenings are getting longer, and if you’re enjoying your outdoor living area in the winter (and we hope you are!), chances are you’re running your lights more often than usual. This fact, combined with the fact that many people enjoy decorating their outdoor living spaces for the holidays, means it’s a good time for a reminder about outdoor electrical safety.
Here are some basic safety tips that can save you a lot of headache down the road!
Don’t use indoor fixtures outdoors
Remember that your outdoor living is exposed to rain, ice, and significant shifts in temperature. You’ll want to make sure any electrical appliance or light fixture you use is rated for outdoor use—and this includes strings of Christmas lights. Bulbs and wires that are created for indoor use may short out or create other damage when exposed to the elements.
Don’t plug appliances in carelessly
A mini fridge or other electrical appliance may draw a good deal of power from your outlet, increasing your risk of overloading it. For permanent fixtures, it’s best to have an electrician wire things up properly. Not only will it be safer, but it will look nicer, too.
Don’t misuse extension cords
We’d recommend you not use extension cords as a permanent fixture of your outdoor living space, but rather have an expert installer or electrician wire your appliances correctly. If you’re using cords for holiday decorations, be conservative and be sure they don’t create a tripping hazard.
Pro tip: If you’re trying to extend the reach of your extension cord by plugging it into another extension cord—DON’T. This kind of setup can overheat and cause a fire.
Be cautious using power strips
If you’ve got several power strips running, it probably means you’ve got too much going on for one outlet, and you’re risking overloading the circuits, potentially causing a fire. And again, do not use a power strip designed indoor use only--check to make sure it’s rated for outdoor use.
Be picky about light bulbs
Don’t leave lights (including holiday lights) running all night every night, as they can overheat and create a fire hazard—particularly in dry weather. Turn them off when you go to bed at night, and turn them back on only when it starts to get dark. Also, consider LED lighting, which uses less energy and creates much less heat.
Also, be sure never to use a higher watt bulb than recommended, as these can quickly overheat and damage your outdoor living area’s wiring permanently.
Bury cords that run through the yard
If you’ll be using low- or high-voltage lights in your yard, be sure to bury any cords a few inches in the ground to protect them from the elements. Learn more about lighting your outdoor living area.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand
This should be something you’re already doing as a general safety practice for any kitchen, indoor or out. We hope you never have to use it—but better to have it on hand than not have it when you need it!
Make the most of your outdoor living area
We hope these tips will help you enjoy your outdoor living area to the fullest. Check out our other posts on building your outdoor lifestyle. And if you have any questions—or are ready to custom design a new outdoor living space—give the experts at Unlimited Outdoor Kitchen a call!