Household Electricals – Are your plugs safe?

You might think this is an odd question, especially as they are likely to be all around you, even as you read this. But, asking yourself ‘are your plugs safe?’ isn’t just about making sure they have the right fuse or making sure the parts are screwed together properly. Far from it in fact.

Research from the UK based charity, Electrical Safety Council (ESC)*, revealed serious problems with plug tops purchased from suppliers found on the internet. Many of the plug tops tested proved to be far from adequate, causing damage and burning to electrical sockets. In one case, a plug blew itself out of the socket. This could have caused a serious or fatal injury had this happened in someone’s home.

How do you Know if Your Plugs are Safe? 

Remember a safe plug is only safe if used correctly, so here are some of the signs to look out for.

  • Any plug or cord with visible damage from burning, melting or wear and tear should not be used.
  • Cracked or discoloured casing and cables is a tell-tale sign of damage. And remember a plug must be pulled from the socket by the plug itself, not the cable.
  • Always check the cable before using the plug. Make sure it is firmly clamped into the plug, and do not use it if you see any exposed cable or wires.
  • Make sure the plug is not wet or if it has been wet, is totally dried out, before you use it. Do not use appliances in the bathroom unless they are specially adapted, such as electric toothbrushes and shavers.
  • Do not plug too many appliances into one socket, which will overload it, and cause a fire hazard.

Do You Know How to Check Your Plugs?

Checking your household plugs are safe probably doesn’t cross your mind too often. But it will ensure your home is safe and sound, and is easy to do:

  • Firstly, with the plug out of the socket, check the cable – is it securely attached to the plug? Are there any signs of damage to the cable? Are any of the coloured wires visible?
  • Is there any damage or cracks to the plug casing?
  • Does the plug overheat? Are there signs of overheating such as discolouration of the case or cable?
  • Does the plug meet the British Standards BS 1363?
  • For any plugs that did not come pre-attached to the appliance, make sure they are safely and correctly attached.
  • IF you need to remove the plug casing, check the wires – brown (previously red) goes to Live; blue (previously black) goes to Neutral; and, green and yellow (previously green) goes to Earth.
  • Check that the cord clamp holding the cable is in place, and the screws holding the three plug wires are tight.
  • Check the fuse is the correct size and meets the British Standard BS 1362.
  • When you are satisfied the fuse is clipped in its holder, replace the cover.

So, are your plugs safe? You can follow our guide to check yourself, but if you have any queries or are in any doubt at all over the safety aspects of your electrics, please refer to a qualified electrician. To keep your family and home safe, whether you need some extra sockets in your kitchen, or want to make sure you’re not overloading your living room power supplies, just give us a call.

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duane gilbert

Duane Gilbert

Duane Gilbert is the Managing Director of Doctor Electrical. A problem solver with 'hands-on' experience. He has been in the electrical industry since leaving school and built up a wealth of experience. Connect with Duane on LinkedIn >>

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