Electrical safety checklist

To help reduce the likelihood of accidents in the home, here’s our electrical safety checklist:

  1. Make sure you have pull cords for lights in bathrooms. Or if you have switches make sure they on the outside of the room, rather than inside the bath or shower room
  2. According to registered charity Electrical Safety First, there shouldn’t be any sockets in bathrooms or shower rooms, apart from shaver supply units, unless they can be fitted at least 3 metres from the bath or shower
  3. Charge your electric toothbrush outside your bathroom – did you know that electricity can track across a steamy room?
  4. Dehumidifiers are becoming more and more popular as people try to eliminate damp. If you use one in your bathroom, make sure you charge it in a separate room
  5. If you ‘vape’ make sure you use the correct type of charger. Using the wrong type can cause a fire risk
  6. Clear the clutter around your meters. Make sure there are no books, papers or old envelopes, as loose connections could set them on fire. Under the stairs and storage areas are key places to look. If you suspect there’s anything wrong with your meter you should contact your energy supplier
  7. Don’t overload sockets – too many appliances and too many extension cables can cause fires
  8. Make sure you can isolate the supply to your dishwasher and washing machine by accessing a switch easily. If something goes wrong it could save your life and your property
  9. Even when it gets cold don’t put electric dryers or heaters in your bathroom
  10. Always get appliances checked by a professional if you buy them second hand
Electrical switch

Dos and don’ts of electrical safety

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 property’s 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 inspect them
  • Turn off any electrical equipment you’re not using, especially at night and when you’re out of the house – this is when a fire can spread quickly and could go unnoticed
  • Regularly check flexible cables on kettles, irons 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 the appliance when you’ve finished. This is especially important for items that get hot, such as hairdryers or hair straighteners, as they may come into contact with materials that can catch fire, likes curtains
  • Check the current rating of an electrical adaptor before you plug appliances in. Make sure the total current used isn’t more than the adaptor’s rating
  • Make sure an appliance has been tested and approved before you buy it. Check for the BEAB seal of approval. The British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) is an independent organisation for electrical safety
  • When fitting a plug, ensure you wire it correctly and always use the correct size fuse. Never fit a higher rated fuse 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
  • When it’s raining, only use electrical equipment outside if the equipment is designed to do so
  • Use a qualified electrician for electrical repairs. You can find one by visiting the Electrical Safety Council website
  • Switch off and unplug electrical appliances from the mains when inspecting or cleaning them
  • After a bath or shower, make sure your children are dried off thoroughly before they touch any electrical appliances like games consoles. Water and electricity can be deadly
  • Keep drinks away from electrical appliances including TVs, DVD players, stereos, speakers, computers and games consoles
  • Take special care when using electrical kitchen appliances. The combination of water, hot surfaces, flexible cables and electricity can be very dangerous
Burnt plug

Don't:

  • 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 you need to plug in more appliances than you have sockets for
  • Don’t use a bulb with a higher wattage than its light fitting. eg. 100 Watt bulb in 60 Watt lighting fitting. This can lead to overheating which could result in a scorched shade, the lamp holder crumbling when touched, or even a fire
  • Don’t put electric heaters near curtains or furniture
  • Don’t place anything on top of convector or fan heaters
  • Don’t cover the air vents on storage heaters or fan heaters. Don’t trail flexible cables under carpets or rugs
  • Don’t touch plugs, switches or electrical appliances with wet or damp hands
  • Don’t use an electric blanket it when it is folded, creased or damp. It’s important when using electric blankets that you ensure you always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Don’t plug one adaptor into another - where possible, it’s actually best to avoid using adaptors and extension leads altogether
  • Don’t let children run straight into the house, where there are plugs, sockets and switches, without drying off after they’ve played in a paddling pool
  • Don’t wrap cables around equipment, such as a kettle, when it is still warm
  • Don’t clean an appliance while it is still plugged in
  • Don’t fill a kettle or steam iron while plugged in
  • Don’t try to remove bread that’s stuck in a toaster while the toaster is still plugged in, and especially not by using a metal knife as there are often ‘live’ parts inside the toaster

These are just a few examples of how you can make your home safer for you and your family, you should always keep a look out for potential dangers. If you do spot something don’t try and fix electrical problems yourself as it could put yourself or your family at risk. If you’re unsure who you should call, an NICEC registered electrician will be able to safely undertake any electrical work you need and will provide a certificate to show the work meets current regulations.