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Electricity safety rules at home

10 essential safety considerations regarding electricity

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Some important, and sometimes overlooked, safety guidance regarding electricity.

Our recommended electricians in Cambridge have come up with 10 key considerations to keep you and your possessions safe in your home.

1. Overloading

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.

Safety Tip:
  • Perform regular checks on electrical supply points and equipment
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.

Safety Tips:
  • 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

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 – a television for example may use a 3amp plug, whereas a vacuum cleaner might take 5amp plug for example.

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.

Safety tip
  • 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. Light bulbs

To extend the life of your life bulbs, don’t use a light bulb wattage that is too high for a lamp – it should say which wattage you should be using.

6. Toaster

Keep the toaster clean and away from curtains that could easily blow onto elements and catch alight.

7. Children and pets

Keep children and pets away from wires that they could pull or chew.

8. 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
  • Scorch marks on sockets or plugs.
9. Faulty wiring

If the coloured wires are sticking out of the plug, not only could they be pulled loose but also water and debris could get inside the plug.  Change plugs that are loose or tighten them up.

The outer covering of a power lead must not be damaged. Make sure you don’t expose cables when you fix plugs and if a power lead does get split or frayed, don’t tape over it and don’t use previously-repaired leads. Never join cables by taping them together. Water could get in, or the tape could come loose. Buy a new appliance or lead instead

10. Turn appliances off

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.

By following these simple acts, accidents can be easily avoided, and many lives or injuries can be prevented.  Rest assured that an overload in a properly installed electrical system wouldn’t burn your house down. An “overcurrent protective device” at the main panel will automatically shut off the power before damage occurs. In most cases, the device will be a circuit breaker that trips open. In older systems, a fuse will “blow” (burn out).

Finding a solution can be a hassle and it is always better to use a qualified electrician.  Scuseme can put you in touch with local, vetted and experienced electricians who can help you with any problems or concerns.


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