Outdoor safety for do-it-yourself projects

The weather is warm, the birds are out and it’s a great time to take on some outdoor projects. Before you build that new deck, shed, tree house or gazebo this summer, consider the location and be sure it doesn’t restrict access to the gas meter or emergency gas valve. The utilities should not be located under decks, gazebos or inside garages.

Don’t forget to look up as well, and note the location of any overhead power lines in the work area. Always assume that power lines are energized, even if they are new installations that are in the process of being hooked up. If excavation reduces the stability of a utility pole, report it immediately as temporary bracing may be necessary.

Before the shovel hits the dirt, call ClickBeforeYouDigMB at 1-800-940-3447 to locate the underground natural gas line and electrical service or use your computer to send a locate request to ClickBeforeYouDigMB.com at least three full work days before you begin any project. This will help to prevent damage while working near these utilities. Be sure your work crew is aware of any ground markings indicating underground services.

Once you have mapped out the appropriate areas, inspect your power tools and accessories thoroughly. Check for wear, breakage and loose connections. Make necessary repairs and invest in any new tools you may need. Ensure your tools are properly grounded with a three-prong plug. Never break off the third prong so the plug will fit an outlet; have an electrician install a new outlet instead.

Always use an appropriate heavy duty extension cord with your tools. Check cords for damage and loose plugs. If a cord feels warm while in use, discard it or have it checked by an electrician. Remember that an extension cord is never a replacement for permanent wiring. Don’t plug more than one high-powered tool into a circuit. When you finish using your power tool, never pull the cord from the outlet; pull it by the plug – this will prevent wear and possible shock. Test your GFCIs regularly to ensure they are providing the protection you require.

Prepared by Linda Carter, PHEc with Manitoba Hydro.