Electricity safety rules at home, what you need to know
We asked our recommended electricians in Cambridge to come up with six key considerations to keep you and your possessions safe in your home.
In February, there was a fire at Clarins Day Spa on St Andrews Street, Cambridge. It was caused by an electrical fault, and the incident led to the part closure of John Lewis. But thanks to their fire prevention systems (smoke and fire alarms, and sophisticated sprinkler systems), both stores kept disruption to a minimum and no one was hurt. Sadly, for many households the consequent of fires, are often far more damaging.
Against this background, we want to share some important, and sometimes overlooked, safety guidance regarding electricity.
Our homes today have literally dozens of appliances – all potential hazards if not used properly, or maintained and tested from time to time. Problems and accidents often arise when these – otherwise completely safe – appliances are linked together and overload a socket: this can lead to overheating and the origin of many household fires.
Perform regular checks on electrical supply points and equipment; we can connect you to a recommended electrician in Cambridge here.
2. Extension leads, bar and block adaptors
Extension leads and plug adaptors are common in the home and useful. Always check the current rating of an extension lead before use and plugging in appliances and do not overload it by using several appliances that together exceed the maximum current rating stated for that particular extension lead. This could cause the plug and wall socket to overheat and possibly start a fire.
Most extension leads today are rated at 13 A, but check before buying because some are rated at 10 A or less.
- It is better to use a bar adaptor on a lead, rather than a block adaptor
- Don’t plug adaptors into adaptors
- Only use one adaptor per socket
- Check the rating of an adaptor before you plug appliances in
- Never buy an extension lead unless the rating is clearly marked by the manufacturer
- Don’t leave power leads and cables where they can be tripped over, near a source of water, or close to the cooker top.
3. Single sockets, plugs & P.A.T
Larger high powered appliances, such as washing machines and driers should ideally have a single socket to themselves because of the high-power consumption. Be aware when changing plugs because different appliances use different amounts of power.
For electrical appliances there is service which is called P.A.T short for portable appliance testing which is basically like an MOT for electrical items with a plug on. P.A.T ensures that the cable and plug is in good condition and that the fuse rating is correct for the appliance. For example when a fuse for a T.V. blows (which is rated at 5amp) the user changes the fuse for a 13A because its the only fuse available at the time. Making the cable for the T.V underrated for the current carrying capacity. Therefore making the appliance unsafe under a fault condition.
Scuseme electricians offer a PAT service at £2 per appliance for more than 50 (prices may vary according to individual requirements)
4. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
There are four types of smoke alarms, each type can be either powered by battery or mains. In a standard alarm the battery will need to be replaced every 12 months, although you can buy some sealed with a 10 year battery. The fire service guidance is as follows:
- Kitchen and Garage: Heat alarms
- Landings: Ionisation smoke alarms or combined optical smoke and heat alarms
- Bedrooms, living rooms and hallway: Optical smoke alarms or combined optical smoke and heat alarms.
If you are burning indoors any type of liquid or solid fuel for heating, cooking or other use, you should have an active carbon monoxide detector installed in your home to keep safe from this silent toxic gas.
- Always buy an alarm which has been certified to the British or European Standard
- Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor on which you have an appliance.
5. Danger signs
The following are all signs that something is wrong and if left untreated all have the potential to start a fire very easily.
- Hot plugs and sockets
- Fuses that blow often
- Circuit breakers that continually trip for no apparent reason
- Flickering lights
- Faulty wiring
- Scorch marks on sockets or plugs.
6. Turn off appliances
Appliances such as the stereo, the kettle, the radio and your computer are all plugged into live electrical sockets. Each one is therefore connected to enough power to start a fire instantly. Turning them off at night (i.e not on standby) not only helps prevent fires, it also saves energy with environmental and economic benefits.