Electricity is essential in our day-to-day lives, and most of us take it for granted - particularly in our home. If you stop and think about how much our lives revolve around electricity, it’s staggering just how many gadgets, devices, and tools are reliant upon this form of power.
From entertainment to communication, heating our homes to storing and cooking food - it’s fair to say that we use a lot of electricity! With so many electrical devices in our homes, however, understanding how to safely use and maintain electricity is essential.
Electric shocks and other injuries are common in the UK, and the results can vary from minor to very serious. Despite this, the majority of electrical accidents can be prevented with just a few simple measures.
1. Don’t overload plug sockets
As we use so many devices, it is easy to overload plug sockets. Unfortunately, doing this contributes to a huge number of household fires every year. Much of this is due to the overuse of extension leads, which are not always designed to support large amounts of electricity
To lower the risk of fire through overloading plug sockets, get to know both your devices and extension leads. Try to avoid the use of square block adaptors, which are not very safe as they do not have a fuse. Multiway extension leads are a much safer option.
It is also important to check the rating of your extension lead (most have a capacity of 13 Amps), and the power of your appliances, ensuring you are not exceeding this capacity.
2. Check your chargers
The influx of mobile devices such as tablets, phones and computers means that many of us have a litany of chargers in our homes. In fact, 30 million mobile phone chargers are bought every year, with 1.8 million purchased online.
While replacing broken chargers with cheap online alternatives makes financial sense, many of these are poorly made. In fact, during rigorous testing of various chargers purchased online, the charity Electrical Safety First found that none met government approved safety requirements.
Using branded chargers that carry a CE mark means that this product meets EU safety regulations. You should also check that the output voltage for the charger matches the device, to reduce the risk of overheating.
3. Get to know your plugs
Regularly checking your plugs and wires is something we should all practice, but most of us take for granted. Just because you’ve had no problems with a plug in the past, does not mean that it is guaranteed to remain safe indefinitely.
Checking that your plugs are safe is not a complicated or particularly rigorous job and may potentially save lives. The first step to ensuring your plugs are safe is to check for obvious warning signs like scorch marks on the plug socket or sparks, which indicate overheating.
Is there any visible damage to the plug or cable? If so, it is also essential to check the wiring, with the diagram below showing the different wires within plug cables:
Image courtesy of rs-online.com
When repairing damaged plugs, make sure each wire is correctly fastened, the screws are fitted tightly, and that the cable is not loose in its casing. Follow these essential steps to ensure you are using electricity in a safe and responsible way.