Electrical safety in your home is often overlooked.
Whilst we are so mindful of weatherproofing our homes, making sure they’re safe for our children, and other house maintenance; we can sometimes forget to look out for electrical safety.
This can comprise anything from electrical sockets, kitchen and bathroom appliances, and even the way we store our electrics.
Often, we don’t consider how our everyday use of electrics can be dangerous or detrimental to our homes.
And, beyond that, being electrical safe can often have a direct link to reducing the energy usage in our homes. So, if you’re not carrying out these steps for your own safety, at least do it for the savings!
If you’re looking to make your home safer, there are a few electrical safety tests that you can carry out to make sure that you’re not at risk.
Keep reading to see what we recommend.
Why is electrical safety important?
Electrical health and safety mean maintaining the health of your house, and making sure that you’re not at risk.
Every year thousands of homes experience fires and damage to their homes due to faulty electricals or poor electrical maintenance.
According to the UK Government Fire Statistics, most electrical fires start in the bedroom.
If we think about how many electricals we keep in our bedrooms – plug sockets, light fixtures, and all our technology – there are lots of potential causes for problems.
And, according to the same report, most fatalities that result from an electrical fire occur in a living room. Likely because of how they’re a shared space, and our living rooms are host to lots of people at the same time.
But, how do these electrical fires happen?
Occasionally, they can happen because of things that are beyond our control. Mostly, however, it’s because of mistakes that we make ourselves.
When we don’t have a high level of electrical competence and safety, we are potentially putting ourselves at risk.
So, how do we make sure that our homes are electrically safe?
1. Don’t overload your plug sockets
It seems that every home in the UK will have an extension cord or two.
Particularly in the older houses, where you’ll likely only find one or two plugs in each room.
Extension cords are great because, in today’s technological era, we need them more than ever to plug in all of our devices.
But this can be dangerous if we’re not careful.
Overloading an extension cord or plug outlet can be hazardous as the plug sockets may not be designed to power that many add on devices.
And, as a result, can cause the sockets to stop working.
Electrical Safety First says that before you plug in an extension cord, check the current rating of it. This should be featured on the back of the cord.
Once you know this, be careful not to overload the extension cord with anything that exceeds this current.
2. Be careful of your electricals around water
This may sound like an obvious one. You were probably told countless times by your Dad when you were younger about not getting the plugs wet.
But, we can easily forget this when it comes to electrical safety in the home.
Make sure that if you’re handling plug sockets and fuses, that your hands are completely dry.
As well as this, try not to bring your electricals into the bathroom.
Whilst it may make logical sense to bring your hairdryer or straighteners into the bathroom, they can be accidents waiting to happen.
Instead, make a habit to use these devices elsewhere – away from water.
And, most importantly, make sure you pass this message on to children.
3. Replace damaged electrical cords
According to Unique Fire and Safety, most electrical fires occur because of damaged electrical cords.
We’ve all been guilty of it, using a broken phone charger that needs the wire positioned just right to get it to work.
Or maybe a hairdryer where the wires are starting to poke out. But, you’re holding out to your birthday when you’ll get a new one.
No matter what it is, if you have a device with faulty electrical cords, replace it immediately.
These devices you’re still using may be transferring heat onto a combustible surface – like a rug or bed sheet – which can start a fire.
You may not think that it’s a big deal, but these devices are extremely dangerous. Using them past their functionality or accidentally damaging them and not throwing them away can cause you problems later down the line.
4. Make sure you’re using the right wattage
Did you know that the wattage rating on your light fixture is for the maximum wattage, not the recommended wattage?
Meaning, that you shouldn’t be going over what the number says. If you were to overload the wattage, it can cause the bulb to overheat. Then, the light socket and insulation in the wires could melt.
This is known as over-lamping and can cause long-lasting damage to your light fixtures.
Or, even in the worst case, can cause damage to your home.
So, how do you prevent this?
If you’re worried about using the right wattage, or if your light fixture doesn’t state what wattage it requires, always go lower.
A 60-watt bulb is a safe bet and can not only protect your light fixtures but also save you energy.
5. Unplug unused devices
Speaking of saving energy, unplugging your electrical devices is another good practice to adopt.
It means that you’re not using electricity when you don’t need to, saving you money in the long run. If you want to learn more about saving energy in the home, check out our article here.
But why else should you unplug your used devices?
Well, keeping devices plugged in even when not in use can lead to overheating. Similar to light fixtures, this can be dangerous as it can lead to melting of the plug sockets and can cause long term problems.
What’s more, leaving devices plugged in can also cause a power surge.
So, unplug your devices! It’s a move that literally doesn’t cost anything and is easy to adopt.
6. Allow for proper plug circulation
Electrical safety doesn’t just involve electricals that are on or in use, but also when they’re being stored.
Storing your electrical cables properly is a good idea because it prevents tangling. It makes it easier for you to find what you’re looking for and you won’t end up with a huge pile of cables you have to sort through.
What’s more, it also means that these cables will have proper air circulation.
You may only be using one cable, but if it’s tangled up with three others, it’s not getting the proper air circulation it needs.
Meaning that it can overheat, and potentially cause problems.
By having a proper storage system you can ensure that each cable and electrical device remains cool and untouched.
And, most of all, you won’t be tripping over them either!
7. Make sure your appliances are up to scratch
We’ve already discussed making sure that your electrical cords remain undamaged and in working condition, but you should also work on maintaining your other electrical appliances also.
This can mean a whole host of things.
Firstly, make sure you’re using the right plug sockets.
Don’t try and shove a 2-prong plug into a 3-prong socket. It’s not going to work, and you could get hurt in the process.
Secondly, if you start to notice wear or tear anywhere, replace it!
A light switch on the wall with loose screws has the potential of coming off and exposing the wires.
Thirdly, reach out to a landlord or electrician if you need help.
If you don’t have any experience with electricals, don’t try doing it yourself. You could get really hurt. If you notice an issue in your home or property, contact your landlord or call an electrician.
8. Be mindful of the warning signs
Finally, if you’re looking to keep your home safe when dealing with electrics, you should be mindful of the warning signs.
There are lots of different signals which can show if something is wrong with your electricals in your home, but here are some of the basic and most obvious ones.
If you detect a funny smell coming from an electrical outlet, unplug your devices. Something may be wrong internally and you should get a qualified electrician to check it out.
If your plug sockets are warm to the touch or give you a tingling sensation when you touch them. Your electricals may be in need of repair, so call someone to check them out.
If your lights flicker, it usually means there’s a power surge. This might not be dangerous and may just mean that your appliances are asking too much from your wiring. Look into getting an upgrade and see if that helps.
If you’re the type of person who likes working with your hands, trying to fix the problems around your household yourself, and would much rather have a go at fixing the leaky sink than calling a plumber – have you ever considered that you may be in the wrong career?
At Careers In Trade, we have several different types of courses designed for beginners and adult learners. Whether it’s training to become an electrician, studying to be an engineer, or learning how to be a plumber; our courses are fun, engaging, and designed to be completed in your own time.
Check out our course pages here, and see how you can start your journey as a tradesman today!