Electricity

Electricity can be dangerous, but by taking some simple steps you can reduce the risk to you and your neighbours.

Plugs and sockets

For plugs and sockets, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – they are all signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems
  • Badly wired plugs – any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug
  • Overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating
  • Use sockets safely – it’s better to use a multi-socket adapter on a lead than a block adaptor

Heaters

When using a plug-in heater you should:

  • Keep it clear of curtains and furniture
  • Only sit at least three feet (one metre) away from it
  • Buy it from a reputable shop
  • Never dry washing on or near it

Cables and leads

The risks with cables and leads include:

  • Getting frayed and damaged – make sure the outer covering of all power leads is in good condition and replace if necessary
  • Being badly positioned – they shouldn’t be anywhere that they could be tripped over, or near water, cookers or other sources of heat
  • Running them under rugs or carpets where they can wear through without anyone noticing – position them elsewhere

Appliances

All electrical equipment you buy should have the CE, BEAB and BS safety marks. When using electrical appliances, you should never:

  • Get them wet – this includes plugs and sockets, so don’t put a vase of flowers on top of the TV, for example
  • Leave them on at night – unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers
  • Put anything in the microwave that is made of metal, or has a metallic finish or parts

Second hand goods

Beware when buying second hand goods; they may be old and worn out. If you do buy a second hand appliance you should get it safety tested by a qualified expert before you use it.

Maintenance

Electrical appliances, especially ones that run at high speeds and contain motors, such as washing machines, should be serviced once a year by a qualified electrician.

Fuses

When you’re fitting or replacing a fuse, it’s important to use the right fuse for the appliance. Check the manual or look for a sticker on the appliance to find out its wattage and then use the correct fuse.