Electrical Safety: 10 Ways to Protect Your Home
As we’re sure you already know, electrical safety is of the upmost importance. Yet shockingly, 53.4% of all accidental domestic fires in 2019 had an electrical origin, according to Electrical Safety First. At Hexo Services, we’re dedicated to helping the nation become more aware of electrical safety and the potential dangers around the home. So here we want to highlight the top 10 things you can do to achieve electrical safety at home, so you can avoid hazards, fires and accidents.
Register your products
Electrical Safety First is a fantastic source for homeowners and businesses. The organisation is dedicated to reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused by electricity. It focuses on electrical safety tips and offers a database for recalled items in the UK. A recalled product is one that the manufacturer has found a fault with. Kettles, phone chargers, irons and hair dryers are recalled regularly, but only between 10% and 20% of recalled items are ever returned. Yet, in 2018, 71% of electrical fires were started by appliances.
On the company’s database, you can also register an electrical item. Then, if the manufacturer of that appliance finds a potentially hazardous issue with it, they will let you know directly. This is a fantastic way to avoid electric shocks or accidental fires.
Be vigilant and test, test, test
In order to protect your home and family, you should remain vigilant around the house. After all, electrical safety starts with caution. Keep an eye on your electrical equipment and regularly check for signs of damage or deterioration. This includes electrical cables, extension leads and appliances. Look out for exposed wires, overheating and electric shocks.
Landlords and homeowners should also have their entire electrical systems inspected by a professional electrician at least once every five years. This should include a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Fixed-Wired Testing. You may also want to include annual PAT Testing, especially if you rent your property out to others.
Don’t overload sockets
While you might feel you need to plug in several extension leads in order to power up all your devices at once, overloading plug sockets is a common cause of electrical fires. When it comes to electrical safety, sockets play a huge role. They should always be cool to the touch so if you spot a hot socket, turn it off immediately. Never overload an extension lead either. This can exceed the maximum current rating for the extension lead, causing overheating and possibly a fire.
Always buy from a reputable source
While it might be tempting to purchase a secondhand hair dryer from an online auction site, or an unbranded kettle from the local corner store, poor quality electrical goods can quickly turn into a nightmare. Only ever purchase electrical appliances from a reputable source and opt for a manufacturer you know and trust. You should also only buy official branded chargers for laptops and phones, to avoid counterfeit goods that could potentially be dangerous. This is why regular PAT Testing is so important.
Test your fire alarms
In the event of a fire, your in-house smoke detectors could save your life. Ignore your detection system and you could put yourself and your family at risk. If your fire alarms are battery operated, check they’re working correctly at least once a month. If possible, choose smoke alarms with a sealed battery and a 10-year lifespan. If you can, always opt for an alarm powered by mains electricity. You can find out more from the London Fire Brigade.
Keep away from water
This might sound like an obvious one, but water and electricity don’t mix. All appliances should be kept away from water. There’s a high risk of electrocution if you use an electrical appliance with wet hands. So, it’s probably best to leave the radio out of the bathroom and always unplug your kettle before filling it!
Unplug unused appliances
If an appliance isn’t being used, unplug it. Not only will this save you money on your electricity bills, since appliances still use power on standby mode, but it also protects them from overheating.
Look after your cables
Power cables can quickly become damaged, especially if they’re stored incorrectly. Ensure your electrical appliances are kept in a dry place and always keep the cables straight. Wrapping cables around appliances might save space, but it can stretch the wiring inside and lead to overheating. Remember, when it comes to cables and sockets, regular Fixed-Wire Testing and Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICR) are essential.
Consider a Residual Current Device
Residual Current Devices (RCD) are life-savers. They’re designed to prevent you from getting an electric shock. They can also protect against electrical fires. RCDs should always be used with outdoor electrical equipment. For example, if you’re mowing the lawn and accidentally run over the power cable, your RCD will cut the power and stop you from getting injured. You can opt for a Fixed RCD, which is installed into a fusebox, or a Socket-Outlet RCD, which can be used in the place of a standard power socket.
Always read the label
Another obvious one, but before using an appliance, you should always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do so can lead to injury or damage to the appliance, which could create a fire risk. After all, electrical safety is all about being sensible and vigilant.
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