Electrical safety

The safety of our customers is our number one priority.

We are responsible for making sure the fixed electrical system in your home is tested periodically, safe and maintained. We’re also responsible for testing and confirming the safety of any portable equipment located in communal areas.

You, are responsible for allowing us access into your home to carry out periodic testing and any remedial works, maintaining and ensuring the safety of your own electrical appliances. We recommend that you get a qualified electrician to carry out testing of your electrical appliances or if you have any additional electrical work carried out in your home (permitting you have been granted an alterations request).

Electrical fires are common, but many can be easily avoided. Faulty appliances are the biggest cause of electrical fires in homes. If you have any concerns about your electrical appliances or wiring get them checked by a qualified electrician.

Here’s some important advice on how to keep yourself safe and sound.

  • Frayed, cut or damaged leads
  • Cracked cases on plugs
  • Scorch/burn marks on plugs, sockets, leads or appliance
  • Fuses that blow or circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reason
  • Hot plugs or sockets
  • Flickering lights
  • Loose cord grips in plugs or appliances
  • Smell of burnt plastic
  • Damage to the electrical appliance itself.
  • Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
  • Use appliances as stated in the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
  • Don’t use damaged electrical goods (including e-cigarette)
  • Do not use a higher wattage light bulb than specified on the light fitting
  • Empty fluff regularly from tumble dryers in line with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Keep electrical appliances and components (sockets, switches) dry. If you have a water leak which comes into contact with electrics, isolate electrics where possible.
  • Hair straighteners get extremely hot. Always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
  • Don’t overload sockets. Keep to one plug per socket. High powered appliances such as washing machines, should have a single socket to themselves
  • Always check that you’re using the right fuse, typical examples include 3A fuse – Table lamp, television, computer, blender, fridge, freezer. 13A fuse – Washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, kettle, toaster, iron
  • If you have to use an adaptor, use a fused ‘inline’ type but don’t overload it by adding extra plug-in adaptors or using high current appliances such as electric heaters. Know the limits
  • Cable drum extension leads should be completely unwound to avoid overheating.

Re-chargeable batteries when used safely power millions of devices every day such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets and mobility scooters. However, batteries can present a fire risk when over-charged, short-circuited, submerged in water or if their cases are damaged. Follow these safety tips when charging your devices:

  • Always use the charger that came with your phone, tablet, e-cigarette or mobile device or a genuine replacement. Counterfeit electrical chargers can be deadly, and many fail to meet UK safety regulations, leading to fires and injury
  • Don’t leave items unattended and continuously on charge (after the charge cycle is complete)
  • Don’t leave mobile phones, tablets or e-cigarettes charging overnight
  • Avoid storing, using or charging batteries in extremes of high or low temperatures
  • Protect batteries against being damaged, crushed or punctured and don’t immerse in water
  • Do not cover devices in use or batteries that are on charge, in case of overheating.

Many fire deaths happen at night when most people are sleeping. You can reduce your risk by carrying out some simple checks before you go to bed:

  • Turn off and unplug electrical appliances unless they are designed to be left on – like your fridge or freezer
  • Don’t leave the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher switched on
  • Turn heaters off
  • Using an electric blanket
    • Never use an electric blanket if you have an air flow pressure relief mattress, or use paraffin based emollient creams. Ask for non-flammable creams instead
    • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring
    • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
    • Do not buy second-hand electric blankets
    • Check regularly for wear and tear and replace your electric blanket every 10 years.

Make sure you put out any candles, incense and oil burners when you leave the room and especially before bed.

These items should always be held firmly in heat resistant holders and placed on a stable surface. Keep them away from materials that may catch fire such as curtains, furniture and clothes.

Tea lights get very hot and without proper holders can melt through plastic surfaces like a TV or bath.

To avoid accidents keep candles and other naked flames out of reach of children and pets.

More fires and fire injuries are caused by carelessness in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home.

  • Avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • If you have to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, it’s safer to take pans off the heat and turn off the hob and/or grill
  • Don’t cook if you are tired, have been drinking alcohol or taking medication that might make you drowsy
  • Loose clothing can easily catch fire – take care not to lean over a hot hob and keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob
  • Keep the oven, hob, cooker hood and grill clean, and in good working order
  • A build-up of fat and grease can ignite and cause a fire
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers
  • Double-check the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking
  • Check toasters are clean and not placed under kitchen cabinets or close to anything that can catch fire.

If a pan catches fire

  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself and don’t attempt to move the pan
  • Turn off the heat if it is safe to do so
  • Never throw water over a fire as it could create a fireball
  • Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call the fire brigade by dialling 999.

Deep fat frying

  • Take extra care when cooking with hot oil as it can easily overheat and catch fire
  • Never fill a pan more than one-third full of fat or oil
  • Make sure food is dry before putting in hot oil
  • If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • Use an electronic deep fat fryer if possible – they have automatic temperature controls.

Outdoor cooking

  • Never use a barbeque (BBQ) including disposable, indoors or on a balcony
  • Position your BBQ on level ground and keep it well away from anything that may catch fire (sheds, fences, trees, tents etc)
  • Never use petrol, paraffin or biofuel to get the BBQ going or revive it
  • Never take a BBQ into a tent, awning, caravan or motorhome. Even when cooling, it will give off poisonous carbon monoxide fumes which can kill.

Electrical fires are common, but many can be easily avoided. Scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons could all be signs of loose or dangerous wiring. If in doubt, get them checked by a qualified electrician.

  • Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
  • Empty fluff regularly from tumble dryers in line with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Hair straighteners get extremely hot. Always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
  • Don’t overload sockets. Keep to one plug per socket. High powered appliances such as washing machines, should have a single socket to themselves
  • Always check that you’re using the right fuse, typical examples include 3A fuse – Table lamp, television, computer, blender, fridge, freezer. 13A fuse – Washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, kettle, toaster, iron
  • If you have to use an adaptor, use a fused ‘inline’ type but don’t overload it by adding extra plug-in adaptors or using high current appliances such as electric heaters. Know the limits
  • Cable drum extension leads should be completely unwound to avoid overheating.
  • Never use an electric blanket if you have an air flow pressure relief mattress, or use paraffin based emollient creams. Ask for non-flammable creams instead
  • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring
  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
  • Do not buy second-hand electric blankets
  • Check regularly for wear and tear and replace your electric blanket every 10 years.
  • Secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters.
  • Keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always sit at least one metre away from a heater as it could set light to your clothes or chair.
  • Before moving your heater, turn it off and allow it to cool first.
  • Do not use gas heaters indoors.

Faulty electrical goods can cause fires. If you are concerned about the safety of a product, stop using it and make your concern known to the retailer, manufacturer or your local Trading Standards office.

Take extra care with second-hand appliances. Ensure they have been safety checked and are not listed on the product recall register.

Always ensure new appliances are registered so that manufacturers can contact you in the event of any problems. Go to: www.registermyappliance.org.uk for more information and to register your electrical products.

Use of electronic cigarettes has increased in recent years. They are safer to use as long as the manufacturers’ instructions are followed:

  • Use only the battery and charger that’s provided with the e-cigarette
  • Avoid leaving an e-cigarette on charge overnight
  • Never use a damaged e-cigarette.

 

Electrical shocks can cause a wide range of injury’s which can be anything from loss of muscle control, electrical or thermal burns to a fatality.

How to help prevent electrical injuries:

  • Always use dry hands when handling leads or plugs
  • Use child safety plugs in all outlets
  • Keep electrical leads out of reach of children
  • Pull appliances out by the plug not the lead
  • Don’t put metal objects into electrical outlets or appliances, e.g. a plugged in toaster
  • Don’t run appliance leads across walkways. This can damage the lead.
  • Avoid handling a lead or plug that has exposed wiring; a damaged lead should be discarded. Only handle the insulated part of a plug or lead.

An RCD, also known as residual current device, is found in your consumer unit (fuse box).

It’s a life-saving device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you accidentally touch something live or accidentally touch electrical equipment with wet hands and it does this by switching off the electricity automatically in the event of a fault. Every 3 to 6 months it is recommended that you test your RCD is working correctly, below is a link to explain how to carry this out.