Eileen's Blog


April 8th, 2015 7:24 PM by Eileen Denhard


Inspect your outdoor wiring, light fixtures and outlets.




A mild electric shock is unpleasant. A serious electric shock can cause an irregular heartbeat, a temporary electrolyte imbalance and death!

What's the difference between a 'mild' electric shock and a 'serious' one? The following will make an electric shock worse:

  • If you are holding a metal tool which comes into direct contact with an electrical current
  • If any part of your body has direct contact with the earth
  • If the earth, your body, or the electrical device is wet

All three of these exist in abundance outdoors.

Outdoor wiring and fixtures should be in good shape and should be protected from mechanical damage.


The first rule is "look but don't touch."

Here are three things to look for:

  1. Damaged plugs and fixtures
    • Look for light fixtures that are loose or hanging from the wires.
    • Electrical receptacles (plugs) are particularly susceptible to mechanical damage. Worn or damaged receptacles should be replaced.
  1. Damaged wiring
    • Look for wiring that is worn or damaged and replace it.
    • Wiring should be armored cable (cable encased in a flexible metal jacket) or inside a plastic or metal conduit (pipe) unless it is higher than five to seven feet above the ground. This helps to prevent mechanical damage to the wire.


    • Look for loose wiring. Wiring that is not properly secured is more likely to get damaged.
  1. Improper wiring
    Outdoor wiring is designed for damp locations. Regular indoor wiring is not acceptable. It's a bit difficult to know the difference, but here are a few clues:
    • Wiring rated for indoor use may have the letters NMD printed on it.
    • Wiring rated for protected outdoor application will have NMW printed on it.
    • Most often, indoor wiring is white or red and outdoor wiring is black, brown or grey.





Wiring for telephone, cable T.V. and low voltage lighting is not a concern because the voltage in these wires is not enough to give you a shock.


For greater safety, outdoor receptacles (plugs) should be ground fault interrupters (GFI's). A "ground fault" is electricity "leaking" to ground. A GFI detects the smallest of these leaks and shuts off the receptacle in a split second..



Play safe:

  • Make sure your extension cords are in good condition.
  • Wear shoes when operating electric gardening tools.
  • Hire an electrician to repair any problems you identify.
Posted in:General
Posted by Eileen Denhard on April 8th, 2015 7:24 PM



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