Approximately 800 children under the age of 15 are injured in electrical accidents every year in the UK and some of these are serious injuries. Around 7 children per day visit United States hospital emergency rooms for injuries relating to electric shocks (or related burns injuries) after tampering with an electrical wall socket/outlet.
Indoor Electrical Safety Tips
- Never use electrical items anywhere near water. Water is a great conductor of electricity so you could easily make the whole sink water, bath water or outdoor pool water a live electric circuit!
- All electrical circuits should be protected by a bad circuit detector/ circuit breaker systems which are known by many names but are essentially similar items. These are RCDs (Residual Current Devices), RCCBs (Residual Current Circuit Breaker) ,GFIs (Ground Fault Interrupters) and GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters). The most critical circuits to protect are those that you have a risk of cutting through e.g. electric knife or those where the cables are stressed e.g. vacuum cleaner. You MUST use these devices every time you use an appliance like this. These devices can be an integral part of the socket (ideally) or you can manually add these. These cut off the electricity immediately they detect an imbalance in the circuit. Make sure you test these regularly and every time before you use them on circuits for higher risk devices.
- Cover all electrical sockets / outlet with approved child safe plastic protectors to prevent children poking items in and getting a potentially fatal electric shock
- Never put tools or other objects (and definitely not your fingers) in electric sockets / outlets. Only plugs are designed to go in them.
- Never overload electric sockets / outlets and don't double stack extension leads. This could easily cause an electrical fire.
- Never remove a lamp's blown bulb before you have the replacement because the exposed terminals are a major electric shock hazard. If you must remove it to take to the shop then remove the lamp, put it away in a high cupboard and tape over the terminals in case someone does remove it and plugs it in.
- It is recommended to have a complete electrical system check periodically by a Qualified Electrician. The electrician will make sure all devices are safe, properly maintained and that all earthing is suitable (especially on metal objects which need to be earthed correctly to avoid a major shock to your family).
- If you ever notice damaged cables or exposed wires then isolate the power and then dispose of the item. Remember electricity is invisible so always remove the power first e.g. by removing the plug. You must never be tempted to touch an electrical appliance or its cable if you see any damage since the earthing might be compromised.
- Never be tempted to use the incorrect fuse rating in an appliance (for example if you don't have the correct one available). Always stop using the appliance until you can get the correct one. For example if you use a higher fuse rating and the appliance develops a fault this could make the equipment extremely dangerous and cause an electrical fire because the fuse might not blow.
- Always pull on the plug to take it out and not the cable. If you pull the cable, you could damage the cable and make it dangerous.
Outdoor Electrical Safety Tips
- Never allow children to play near power lines e.g. climbing the structure, climbing trees nearby, using fishing rods or flying kites in the area.
- Do not use electrical devices in the rain or where there is any chance of them getting wet e.g. when sprinklers are on.
- If a kite does fly towards an overhead power line let go of the cord immediately before it touches and do not touch or let anyone else touch the cord or handles. This would give a massive electric shock that is likely to be fatal.
- Never leave outdoor electrical equipment plugged in and unattended when not in use.
- Electric extension reels should be fully uncoiled and extended to dissipate the heat when in use.
- Take care when digging in the garden due to the potential of cutting into buried cables. You can use a cable detector for this.
- As for indoors use RCDs, RCCBs ,GFIs or GFCIs. The most critical circuits to protect are those that you have a risk of cutting through e.g. lawnmower / electric strimmer or electric saw. These cut off the electricity immediately they detect an imbalance in the circuit. Make sure you test these regularly and every time before you use them on circuits for higher risk devices.
- If you hear thunder or see lightening, get indoors immediately. Avoid sheltering or standing near potential discharge points such as trees or under scaffolding.
- Never touch an appliance or its cable that has obvious damage to the electrics. Remove the power immediately by switching off at the outlet.