Simple checks can save your life
Millions of people in the UK expose themselves and their families to potentially fatal electrical accidents in the home by making simple blunders, down to a lack of knowledge about the dangers of electricity.
It is important to make sure that the electrical installation in your property is well maintained, and we recommend that you use a registered electrician to check that it is safe.
However, there are a number of simple, visual checks that you can carry out yourself:
- Check that you have RCD protection in your fusebox
- Make sure that your plug sockets are not overloaded. Electrical Safety First has developed an online “socket calculator” to help you to check that yours are safe
Use our socket calculator to see if you’re overloading your sockets.
- Ensure that plugs and sockets are not damaged
- Check that visible cables and leads are in good condition
- Check that your light fittings are not visibly damaged and that downlighters are in good working condition
- Check that you are not storing combustible materials around your fusebox, electricity meter or electrical instake
- Don’t use the top of the microwave for extra storage
- Never trail cables under carpets or rugs
- Never take mains-powered electrical items into the bathroom
- Always switch off your electrical items when they are not in use
Stay safe in the kitchen
More than half of all accidental house fires start in the kitchen. Government statistics show that the largest number of accidental reported fires caused by electricity in the home is due to people misusing electrical cooking appliances, including microwaves.
So it’s important that you take special care when using electrical appliances. The mixture of water, hot surfaces, flexible cables and electricity can be very dangerous. Follow our tips to stay safe.
Sockets and switches
To avoid water coming into contact with electricity, make sure that your sockets or switches are fitted at a safe distance (at least 30cm horizontally) from the sink
If appliances such as fridges, dishwashers and washing machines are fitted under worktops, getting to sockets may be difficult. Ideally, these appliances should be controlled by a switched fuse connection unit mounted above the worktop where you can reach it easily.
If a socket in the kitchen, or anywhere else in the house is likely to be used to supply portable equipment outdoors, it should be protected by an RCD.
Never use switches or any electrical equipment when your hands are wet
Simple tips for kitchen safety
- Don’t leave electrical appliances like dishwashers or washing machines running unattended
- Don’t wrap flexible cables around any equipment when it is still warm
- Check that flexible leads and appliances such as kettles and toasters are in good condition
- Don’t try to repair an appliance when it is still plugged in
- Never try to get toast that is stuck out of a toaster while it is plugged in, and especially not with a metal knife as there are often live parts inside
- Make sure you thoroughly clean your oven and grill– a build up of fat and grease is a major cause of fires
- Check your plug sockets are not overloaded with too many electrical appliances as this can lead to overheating
- Avoid storing objects on top of appliances like the microwave, which can block ventilation
- Defrost your fridge and freezer at least once a year to ensure these appliances continue to work properly
- Make sure you have a working smoke detector in case something does go wrong