9 Tips To Ensure Your Home Electrics Are Safe

When it comes to protecting your home, you account for many things that could potentially go wrong and have certain safeguards in place. For example, you have a fire alarm in your home, most houses have a carbon monoxide detector in the UK and you will regularly check your windows, doors and locks.

One area you might overlook or not know how to properly check and manage is your home’s electrics. Domestic electrical problems are fairly common and with electricity being so crucial to the running of your home, problems and concerns can quickly arise without you even realising it. While some of the below safety tips may seem obvious, they are often overlooked in our daily lives.

Keep an eye out for damaged cables

We’ve all used a charging cable that we knew we probably shouldn’t before with the usual excuse of ‘well, it still works’. While this usually won’t lead to any problems, it is a behaviour that needs to be avoided and definitely addressed when it comes to bigger power cables around your home, cables you might not have easy access to. 

Make sure that cables are checked regularly as well as dusted and cleaned where necessary. Pay particular attention to any furniture or appliances that are near the cables as these can easily trap or catch underneath. This can cause a trip hazard but it can also cause cables to overheat and it puts the wire under unnecessary pressure, which can lead to breaks or damage.

Give appliances plenty of space for air circulation

Appliances, like you or I, need air to breath in order to cool down and stop themselves from overheating. Keep appliances away from walls where possible, especially heaters and appliances that tend to get warm. Avoid putting things on top of appliances such as microwaves and heaters and keep them away from cupboards and drawers when running. This way, you can avoid your appliances overheating and reduce the chance of a fire risk.

Keep electrical appliances away from water

Look, this may sound simple and common sense but a bit of convenience can override our heads sometimes. Keep all electrical appliances far away from water sources to reduce the chance of electric shock. Unplug your kettle before refills and avoid using appliances with damp hands as this is a major cause of electrical injury in the home. 

Don’t overload sockets 

A leading cause of electrical fires is overloading sockets which is very easy to do with so many devices. Always make sure the sockets are cool to the touch and remove any appliances from sockets when not in use. 

In general, we would advise that you stay away from three-way or multi-way sockets if at all possible and particularly for overnight devices. These devices can often get very hot and overload quite easily. Exercise particular caution if young children are in your household. If you are using three-way plugs, only plug one heat-producing appliance into a multi-way socket at a time. This will reduce the chance of overheating.

Unplug appliances when not in use

This is something you should be aware of anyway as it is a good way to reduce spending on electricity and helps save you a bit of money. It’s also fairly common sense. Removing unused appliances reduces the chance of overloading sockets as mentioned above, causing fire hazards and power surges. For plugs that are hard to reach, such as behind the TV, you can invest in a smart plug which allows you to control plugs remotely (also quite good to limit TV time!).

Also, try and avoid charging your phone or other devices at night. While there shouldn’t be any real concern, they can overheat and most devices are quick to charge now so you really don’t need to leave them on charge for 8 hours. If you must leave them on charge, make sure they are on something solid and not easily flammable. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions 

Reading the manufacturer’s instructions is a simple and easy thing to do but it can keep you safe, particularly if you are using a new device for the first time. This is particularly important for things like cooking equipment and plug-in appliances as these devices will have a live charge and could easily cause you harm if not used properly. Use devices as instructed and you reduce the risk of harm to yourself or the appliance.

Keep unused cables tidy and secure 

Electrical safety doesn’t only apply when cables are in use. Keeping your wires stored safely can help protect them from damage as well as reduce the chance of them breaking. Make sure where you are storing them isn’t damp or wet. Avoid the typical bending wires around a plug for laptop and mobile phone chargers as it can stretch the wire and cause overheating. Most modern plugs allow you to remove the wire for easier storage and easier wire replacement so take the wire out when not using the plug. Never store or put an electricity cable on a hot surface, as it can damage the insulation and wiring inside. 

Check the fuse on your plug

Fuse replacement on plugs is simple, but you must use the appropriate fuse for the appliance. By using the incorrect fuse, the device is not protected against electrical faults and can overheat cables. Guides are available online to help you identify the right fuse for you so check one out here : https://www.ehow.com/how_5220393_choose-right-fuse 

Avoid knock-off goods

Cheap electrical junk is all over the internet available at a cheap price from phone chargers to hair straighteners. Counterfeit goods are cheap but can be dangerous and are a leading cause of electrical fires and injuries. Be wary of items purchased outside or imported into the UK, as these don’t always meet national safety standards. This goes for batteries and chargers too. Try and buy official chargers from manufacturers instead of off-brand versions. You’ll pay more but they will last longer and keep you protected.

As discussed, these tips are all relatively straightforward but electrical safety can easily be overlooked and most of the errors highlighted are quite common. Keep these tips in mind and have a proper inspection of your home to ensure you reduce the possibility of electric shock, overheating and general damage to your appliances.