Summer is the perfect season for outdoor parties. But no matter what the occasion or size of your gathering, there are some safety issues you should always pay close attention to during the planning process and setup.

The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) offers these guidelines for handling any electrical equipment that may come into play during your party setup:

1. If you’re setting up a tent or using ladders, be cautious of overhead power lines. Keep in mind that you don’t have to actually come into contact with a powerline to be shocked – electricity can jump or ‘arc’ through the air to a tent pole or ladder and cause severe injury, so keep a safe distance – the ESA recommends at least three metres.

2. Do your research if using generators outdoors. Choose the appropriate size for the equipment you need to power.

3. Remember that generators larger than 12 kilowatts (240 volts) require an electric permit and ESA safety inspection. Call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) at least a week in advance of your event.

4. Don’t set up a generator near the bar area or close to water sources.

5. Generators produce poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Keep the generator away from your event tent, and also away from open doors, windows and vents of the house or other nearby buildings.

6. You’ll likely be using extension cords when setting up for a large outdoor party. Always use three-prong cords and plug your extension cords into an outlet that’s protected by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shocks. You can buy portable GFCI protected outdoor power bars at most home improvement stores.

7. Remember to secure cords to the ground to prevent tripping hazards or damage to the cord.

8. If you decide to use outdoor heaters or add lighting, keep them well away from the tent or other fabrics to avoid a fire. Outdoor heaters should also be well ventilated.

The Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) role is to enhance public electrical safety in Ontario. For more information, visit www.esasafe.com.