With all the electrical appliances and electrical gadgets we use on a regular basis, it’s easy to forget about electrical safety. We leave off our electric mains during the daytime and leave lights and electrical appliances on standby during the night. But a new study suggests that most domestic electrical accidents in the UK are likely to happen when people are either asleep or have switched off the lights or appliances. It also suggests that this negligence may be happening in more homes than is being reflected on official records.
Before you go any further, though, let’s make sure there’s no electrical safety at home to worry about: Don’t put your hand inside an electrical appliance, stick your fingers inside a socket, touch an electrical outlet or touch a hot piece of metal. Those are all good rules for keeping electrical appliances safe. However, there is one more thing you should do – and one it is especially important if you’ve young children. Make sure your little ones always use a wash cloth when they’re using any electrical appliances or tools. Not only is it good common sense, but it is a health hazard: Wet hands can easily be covered in germs as they move across surfaces, but babies and young children are more sensitive than older people, and even older children can have cuts and bruises if they accidentally brush their hands on a hot surface.
Here are some other electrical safety tips. Always unplug any electrical appliances and take them outside the house before turning them on or off. Even if you just turn the lights off, leave your appliances plugged in, rather than lying down and shutting them on. Electrical fires can start from anything that could get hot – fridges, clothes lines, electrical sockets, and the like.
One of the most common types of electrical fires are caused by electrical surges. You need to ensure electrical safety at home. If you’ve got surge protectors in many of your electrical appliances at home, you can avoid these accidents. You can plug an appliance into an electrical surge protector, which will stop electricity from passing through until the device has been properly protected. Make sure the surge protectors you buy are very strong, as a small crack or break in the metal casing may prevent it from being able to protect your appliances. You should also protect other electrical appliances with surge protection.
One of the main types of electrical safety at home involves outdoor lighting. It can be quite tricky to ensure your lighting is safe, but there are some simple tips you can follow. Always make sure you turn off exterior lighting before you leave the house – even if you just turn on and go for a short walk. Exterior lighting can catch fire from electrical fires, so be extra careful. And always remember that a lit lamp near a bucket of water can easily catch fire from small twigs and leaves. These tips may seem fairly obvious to people who are more used to living in the city, where exterior lighting is standard, but they are actually very important to remember when you’re living out doors.
If you have a lot of electrical outlets, and plenty of unused ones, then it’s tempting to connect them all up. This can actually be a bad idea. If all your electrical sockets are tied up together with lots of wires, then any potential fire risk has an easier path from the outlet to the fire. In fact, it is best to separate the unconnected, electrical sockets from the others, and connect up only the ones you use on a regular basis.
Another one of those electrical safety tips is not to plug electrical power tools into power sockets that aren’t meant for power tools. Many cordless power tools are designed specifically to not plug into anything except the wall. There are sockets for plugging into things like DVD players and MP3 players, but you should never plug your electric power tool into something that is meant to be permanent. These can become permanent in places like under the stairs or in basements, and it is possible for them to become plugged into power sockets that aren’t meant to accept electrical power tools.
Finally, one of the most important tips for electrical safety at home is to never plug your extension cord into an outlet that isn’t intended for it. While many outlets have the appropriate cords to carry power to your home, some are intended for use in other countries. It’s very easy for an extension cord to end up plugged into a foreign outlet, and if the cord is long enough it could even cause a trip hazard. Make sure that any outlets you plug your extension cord into have the same countries-of Origin as the ones that your appliance came from, and don’t ever plug an electrical extension cord into an electrical wall outlet unless you know it will be safe.