Electricity - we couldn’t live without it. After all it lights our homes, powers our TV, and keeps our food cold in the fridge or helps it cook. But we often forget just how dangerous it can be and the hidden dangers in the home, if not managed correctly.
Disturbingly, research carried out by the electrical safety body, NICEIC, reports that the public are generally unaware of the hidden dangers in the home. 40% of the people surveyed admitted to having no idea about the age of the wiring in their home, with 1 in 5 saying their wiring could have been up to 30 years old! And more than half didn’t know how often wiring should be checked by a qualified electrician.
Even more worrying is that people over 65 are statistically more likely to be involved in a house fire caused by faulty electrics, and with the elderly population increasing they are even more at risk. Their appliances are often forgotten when we check in on them, and their wiring could have been in place for decades, without inspection.
So, what are some of the hidden dangers, and how can we avoid them?
The Hidden Dangers in the Home
- Technology overload– a rapid increase in the amount of modern tech and gadgets means electrical supplies and sockets are quickly overloaded. Additional plugs feed a TV, games consoles, computers, phone chargers all in one room, and all at the same time. And it’s tempting to plug one adapter or extension lead into another. But please don’t! Think carefully about what appliances you plug in to an extension lead, and do not exceed the Amps shown on the guide.
- Water and electricity do not mix– never have and never will! Electric shock is not pleasant and can be fatal. Do not use electrical gadgets in the bathroom or around water, unless they have been specially adapted, such as an electric toothbrush or shaver. But even these should be used with care when plugging and unplugging to ensure that they don’t get wet. Also, don’t use appliances outside if it is raining, or on damp ground.
- Switch off - electrical appliances should be switched off when not in use, particularly at night-time, when a fire is more likely to start undetected. When you go away on holiday, unplug non-essential items that are plugged in to minimise the risk of electrical fire, and to save energy. It is still recommended to keep an eye on unused sockets if you have small children, even if you are in the house. They just love to squeeze things into the socket holes and could cause any number of dangers.
- Don’t pull the cord – pull electrical appliances out of sockets by the plug only, not the cable. If you do pull the cable, it is likely to cause damage, and loose cables along with frayed wires could cause a fire. Always make sure the plug is fully intact and secure.
- The Ageing Problem of Electrics- most things degenerate over time and with frequent use. You wouldn’t keep running your car without a service or MOT. You go for a dental or medical check-up when you know something’s not quite right. And yet many people are happy to live in a building surrounded by ageing electrics, without regular inspections. A regular inspection will keep the dangers and the costs down over time. Cables hidden under rugs and carpets can wear out if they are walked across over time, oh, and don’t forget to watch out for pets or rodents gnawing through cables and wires too!
- Maintenance is not always your job – only attempt repairs if you follow instructions carefully and are confident you know what you are doing, e.g. cleaning a filter, replacing a lightbulb. And before you start any maintenance or repairs, switch off at the mains.
- Read the instructions – always buy your electrical appliances through a reputable supplier and follow the set-up instructions carefully before you start to use them.
- Seasonal change – it’s always worth checking your appliances before packing them away or getting them ready for the summer or winter seasons. Christmas lights, air conditioning units, plug in heaters, electric blankets, even dust on a lamp bulb that’s not been used all summer – these can all trip your electrics or start a fire within a flash. So, the safest thing to do is keep your eyes peeled and any hint of a smell of burning should not be ignored.
Our final note though, if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified electrician. Here at Doctor Electrical, we can test your appliances, carry out inspections and make sure you are safe from any electrical hidden dangers in your home.