Electrical safety advice

Dos and don’ts of electrical safety open/close

In 2007, the number of reported fires in UK homes started by accident was over 43,000. Of these, 19% were caused by electrical faults while a further 25% were caused by people not using electrical equipment and appliances properly.

Do

  • Check the condition of your wiring. This should be done when you move into a new home and then once every 10 years. It’s the landlord’s responsibility if you rent your home. Ask to see a copy of the certificate or report confirming that the electrics meet the UK national standard: BS 7671, Requirements for Electrical Installations
  • Check your sockets regularly. If you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check them
  • Turn off any electrical equipment you are not using especially at night, when a fire can spread quickly while you sleep
  • Regularly check flexible cables on kettles and other similar appliances. Look for signs of fraying, general wear and tear or a loose plug. Do this before you plug anything in
  • Be careful when using hand-held electrical equipment. Make sure you switch off and unplug when you have finished. This is important with items that get hot, hairdryers or curling tongs for example, as they may come into contact with materials that can catch fire such as curtains
  • Check the current rating of an electrical adaptor before you plug appliances in. Make sure that the total current used does not exceed the adaptor’s rating
  • Make sure an appliance has been tested and approved before you purchase it. Check for the BEAB seal of approval
  • When fitting a plug, ensure you wire it correctly and always use the correct size fuse. Never fit a higher rated one or replace a cartridge fuse with fuse wire, even as a temporary measure. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire it will become hot and melt. The melted fuse breaks the circuit, disconnecting the faulty circuit and keeping you safe
  • Make sure you use a Residual Current Device (RCD) when working outside with electrical equipment. These are switches that trip a circuit under dangerous conditions and instantly disconnect the electricity. Don’t use electrical equipment outside if it’s raining unless the equipment is designed to do so
  • Use a qualified electrician for electrical repairs. You can find one by by visiting the Electrical Safety Council website
  • Switch off and unplug electrical appliances from the mains when inspecting or cleaning

Don’t

  • Overload any adaptor or socket, especially with appliances that have a high electrical current such as kettles, irons or heaters. It’s safer to have extra sockets installed if needed
  • Use a bulb with a higher wattage than its light fitting. e.g. 100 Watt bulb in 60 Watt lighting fitting. This can lead to overheating resulting in a scorched shade, the lamp holder crumbling when touched, or even a fire
  • Put electric heaters near curtains or furniture
  • Hang anything on top of convector or fan heaters or dry clothes on them
  • Cover the air vents on storage heaters or fan heaters
  • Trail flexible cables under carpets or rugs
  • Touch plugs, switches or appliances with wet hands
  • Use an electric blanket it when it is folded, creased or damp and ensure you always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Plug one adaptor into another and try not to use adaptors and extension leads where possible

Child Safety open/close

  • After a bath or shower, make sure your children are dried off thoroughly before they go anywhere near electrical things like games consoles. Water and electricity can be deadly
  • Keep drinks away from TVs, DVD players, stereos, speakers, computers, games consoles and anything else electrical
  • Don’t let your children run straight from the paddling pool into the house where there are plugs, sockets and switches. Get them dry first

Kitchen safety open/close

We recommend any socket that is likely to have DIY equipment, a lawnmower, an outdoor light or anything else portable, is protected by an RCD (residual-current device). Under the new national safety standard, this life-saving device that protects against electric shock, should now protect all sockets in any new home or any new sockets added to your existing home.

Do

  • Take special care when using any kitchen appliance. The mixture of water, hot surfaces, flexible cables and electricity can be very dangerous
  • Check that flexible leads and appliances such as kettles and toasters are in good condition

Don’t

  • Use any electrical equipment or switches with wet hands
  • Wrap cables around equipment (such as a kettle) when it is still warm
  • Clean an appliance while it is still plugged in
  • Fill a kettle or steam iron while plugged in
  • Try to get the bread that is stuck out of a toaster while it is still plugged in especially with a metal knife as there are often live parts inside