We take electricity in our homes for granted. Our modern lifestyles with computers, TVs, freezers and washing machines rely on it. Yet if mishandled electricity can also be a source of danger.
An astonishing 2.5 million people in Great Britain receive a mains voltage electric shock each year and while only a small number are fatal, over 300,000 suffer serious injuries as a result.
So what can you do to ensure that your home electrics are safe?
Check for Damage
An easy thing to do is to check all appliances and their power cords for signs of wear or damage. Cracked casing or fraying and cuts to leads can lead to a danger of electric shock or be a fire hazard. Replace any damaged power cords immediately.
If you use electric appliances in the garden, such as lawnmowers or hedge trimmers, it’s easy to accidentally cut through the cord. Appliances used outdoors should therefore always be used with a residual current device (RCD) to cut off the power in the event of a problem. Newer properties have these built in, but you can buy plug-in devices for older properties.
As we get more and more electrical devices in out homes, it’s tempting to turn to adaptors and extension leads to power them all. However, you should never overload a socket. Make sure the total power rating of all devices on one outlet doesn’t exceed 13 amps. If you need more power, it’s better to get extra sockets installed by a qualified electrician – it may be more expensive, but it’s much safer.
If you work from home and rely on your computer, you might consider getting an uninterruptible power supply to protect you from failures in the mains supply. Equipment like the Eaton UPS is easy to install and gives you a few minutes to perform an orderly shutdown so you don’t lose work. They’re available from suppliers such as http://www.cppsales.com/Eaton_UPS_Systems___Accessories-catid17 and also help iron out voltage fluctuations.
If you find that fuses blow or circuit breakers trip out on a regular basis, don’t just ignore it. This is likely to be a sign of a problem. You may be able to isolate it by unplugging individual appliances to determine which one is causing the problem, but if you can’t you should call an electrician.