Electrical Safety – Keeping Your Home Safe While Using Your Electrical Installation, Outlets and Appliances

April 16, 2020 dbrown

TechProServ™ continually assess situations for risk of hazards that reside in our day to day activities at home, as well as our office and construction works.

Due to COVID-19, we have never spent more time at home for such a long and ever-growing duration of time as a complete or full household. This, unfortunately, presents many known (and unknown) risks which we can take for granted or we don’t know enough about the hazards.

We are potentially at a high risk of increasing the demand of what our electrical installation can provide and overloading a supply or numerous supplies (needing more for longer and taking too much than what is on offer!)

We use electricity every day – whether we’re charging our phones (now more than ever?!), watching TV (daytime TV has become the new monitor!) or washing our laundry. We are utilising a dangerous source for a serious hazard whereas, contact with live parts will cause shock and burns, faults causing potential fires and in minor cases, electricity could be a source of ignition in a flammable environment.

Accidental domestic fires in the UK are caused by electricity, and these fires are caused by misuse of appliances, poor regulation of electrical safety checks (particularly in the private rented sector) and faulty appliances.

If you have recently untaken new and/or upgrade electrical works within your home, having good quality wiring that conforms to safety standards is vital for safety. Poor wiring can increase the chance of fire, power surges, arc faults, and other serious consequences. Also, aged and/or non-compliant electrical installations may have damaged, worn, cracked or corroded electrical wires which increase the chance of electrical accidents.

We are potentially at a high risk of increasing the demand of what our electrical installation can provide and overloading a supply or numerous supplies (needing more for longer and taking too much than what is on offer!)

The regulation stuff…. On your home electrical installation
Part P of the building regulations was introduced by the government on January 1st 2005 to protect householders and reduce the risks of electric shock, making all electrical work carried out in the home under statutory control – requiring certain jobs to be notified and signed off by a local building control department, or a Competent Person Scheme registered electrician, so that it meets the appropriate safety standards. In 2013 the government announced some changes to Part P.

The range of work notifiable to building control was reduced (For England only. In Wales some of the regulations still apply). Under the new, revised regulations, electrical work undertaken in kitchens such as adding a new socket or installing a new security light outdoors are no longer notifiable unless a new circuit is required.

Type of work that is notifiable:
The installation of a new circuit, replacement of a consumer unit or, any addition or alteration to existing circuits in a special location’ “bathroom” where there is a higher risk of water mixing with electrics, giving rise to an increased potential for an electric shock.

Type of work that is not notifiable:
Additions and alterations to existing installations outside special locations, and replacements, repairs and maintenance anywhere, installing a new cooker is not notifiable unless a new cooker circuit is needed, connecting an electric gate or garage door to an existing isolator switch is not notifiable work but installing a new circuit from the consumer unit to the isolator is notifiable.

If you cannot provide the right evidence that electrical work has been carried out in accordance with the building regulations, then your local building control may insist that the work is re-done at your cost. Additionally, not having the appropriate certification may cause problems when it comes to selling your home.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work that does not comply with building regulations with a maximum fine of £5,000.

How to stay safe 

  • Do regular checks of plugs and sockets for burn marks, sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if it feels too hot to touch. Do nothing at the point of hazard, if you can, turn off your electrical power and call your local Electrician!
  • Electrical outlets (e.g. sockets) within areas that have water should meet regulations (E.g. When working in bathrooms certain restrictions must be adhered to, so that switches, and other electrical equipment are installed at safe distances away from showers, baths and taps where the risk of mixing electricity and water is increased). Water conducts electricity, keeping outlets away from water reduces the chance of electric shock. Never use a radio, hairdryer, phone, or other devices in the bath, near the pool, or anywhere with a wet floor.
  • We are washing our hands (a lot!), it’s important to understand electrical appliances should never be handled with wet hands as this heightens the chance of getting an electric shock.
  • If your appliance begins making a strange noise or isn’t working properly, don’t ignore it. If you think there might be a problem, always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.
  • A common error is “throwing” water at fires in general. If an electrical fire does occur, avoid pouring water on the flames as water will further fuel the fire and could cause electrocution. If you don’t keep a fire extinguisher at home, turn off your electrical power, evacuate your home and call the fire brigade.
  • Young babies and toddlers tend to be extremely nosy and keen to explore their adventure park (our home). While it’s difficult to supervise children of this age all the time, look to have an additional assessment for these potential electrical hazards and where possible, “electric proof” your children!
  • We don’t often think of lightbulbs as being electrical hazards, but the potential for an electrical fire arises when lightbulbs are kept near flammable materials. Lights, like all sources of electricity, can also cause electric shock, so ensure you always turn the light switch off before replacing a light bulb, and never replace a light bulb or touch a light switch with wet hands.
  • Only use your microwave for food! Always follow the instructions on the packaging and make sure that you only put things in the microwave that are clearly marked as microwave safe.
  • Don’t leave washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running overnight or when you are out.
  • All outside (E.g. Garden) sockets must be RCD protected for safety. An RCD (residual current device) works by switching off the flow of electricity when a cable or flex is cut, and any cables underground must be buried at a sufficient depth to avoid damage from garden tools. If you don’t have RCD’s, consult an electrician to see how you can make your installation safe and/or ensure your outdoor activities do not put yourself and others at risk of electric shock.
  • Outdoor decorative lights plugged into an outdoor socket should be taken inside after use unless they are clearly labelled as waterproof. They are not designed to stay out all year round. Always buy outdoor lighting equipment from a reputable retailer and make sure the light fittings (luminaires) are weatherproof. Good light fittings should carry an IP rating, which indicates how well it stands up to external conditions.
Call Now Button