Electricity can kill. How safe is your home?
Electricity can kill.
Electricity is now the major cause of accidental fires in UK homes.
Government statistics show that electricity causes more than 20,000 fires a year - almost half of all accidental UK house fires. Each year, about 70 people are killed and 350,000 are seriously injured due to an electrical accident in the home.
Due to modern living we now use more and more electrical appliances in the home. For instance, just 20 years ago the average UK home had a hi-fi system and one TV or video, whereas today it is more likely that there are at least two TVs, a DVD player, a satellite receiver or cable box, games console, microwave, computers and laptops not to mention hair dryers, straighteners and the constant charging of mobile phones.
The risk of electrical accidents in the home is much higher than before.
Who should carry out electrical work in my property?
It is important that any electrical installation work is carried out only by people who are competent. This means people who have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to avoid dangers to themselves and others that electricity can create. It's easy to make an electrical circuit work - it's far harder to make the circuit work safely.
We offer full domestic, commercial and industrial electrical health checks, testing and inspection services, fault finding and repairs. Experienced, qualified and competent in all electrical aspects. Contact us on 01144 183 362.
We are Part P registered with NAPIT (National Association Professional Inspectors and Testers) and qualified to BS 7671 18th Edition. We provide a professional and reliable service working to high standards and all work is guaranteed.
Do you know your RCD from your elbow?
Getting to know your electrics.
Your property will have some of the following
The main switch in the consumer unit (fuse box) allows you to turn off the supply to your electrical installation. Some electrical installations have more than one main switch. For example, if your home is heated by electric storage heaters, you may have a separate consumer unit for them. The consumer unit should be easy to get to, so find out where the main switch is to turn the electricity off in an emergency.
Older homes often have re-wireable fuses which automatically disconnect the circuit to prevent danger. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire, it will become hot, and melt when the current goes above a safe level. The melted fuse breaks the faulty circuit so protecting it against overloading.
Newer homes are likely to have circuit-breakers in the consumer unit which switch off a circuit if there is a fault. Circuit-breakers are similar in size to fuse-holders, but give more precise protection than fuses. When they 'trip', you can simply reset the switch. However, you first need to find and correct the fault.
Residual current devices (RCD)
An RCD is a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It provides a level of protection that ordinary fuses or circuit breakers cannot.
How old is your wiring?
Faulty and old wiring is one of the major causes of electrical fires in the home. You can avoid these by having regular checks carried out on the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories. There are clear signs that can help you tell the age of electrical installations in your home. These are:
- Cables coated in black rubber (phased out in the 1960s);
- Cables coated in lead or fabric (before the 1960s);
- A fusebox with a wooden back, cast iron switches, or a haphazard mixture of fuse boxes (before the 1960s);
- Older round pin sockets and round light switches, braided flex hanging from ceiling roses, brown and black switches and sockets mounted in skirting boards (before the 1960s); and
- Wall-mounted light switches in bathrooms (before the 1960s).
Something not quite right?
If you ever smell something funny or can see smoke coming from an electrical outlet, turn off your electrics at the fuseboard immediately if it hasn't already tripped and call a registered electrician straight away.
Contact us on 07787 998124
If there is an electrical fire, call 999 immediately and evacuate the area.
Never attempt to put an electrical fire out using water.
24/7 Emergency Electrician
R.Askew Electrical & Security Ltd operate a 24 hour emergency call out services so we can be there when you need us the most, no matter the time of day or night.
We won't leave you in the dark.
When did you last check the condition and safety of your plugs, sockets and flexible cables?
Damaged plugs, sockets and flexible cables can cause electric shocks, burns and fires.
For you and your family’s safety:
Check the plug and socket for burn marks, sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if it feels hot.
Remove plugs from sockets carefully. Pulling out a plug by the cable puts a strain on it, and could damage the contact between the plug and the socket. This could result in the plug overheating, its wires becoming loose or an electric shock (if the earth wire is disconnected).
Use plugs with the British Standard safety mark - they have live and neutral pins with insulating sleeves that allow you to put them in and pull them out of sockets safely.
Always replace damaged cables immediately. Touching exposed live wires may give you an electric shock or you could even be killed.
Clear Dangers? – It may seem obvious.
Unplug appliances before you try to do any maintenance on them, trailing the cable under the carpet or rug to keep it out of the way.
Drying clothes on an electric heater, with water dripping onto live parts - This is particularly dangerous, and could cause an electric shock or fire. Many electrical appliances, such as heaters, have ventilation slots to prevent overheating. If these slots are covered up, the appliance could overheat and catch fire, or if water drips in, there is a risk of electric shock.
Installing downlighters - Choosing the wrong downlighters, installing them incorrectly or fitting the wrong replacement lamp can pose a serious fire risk in your home. Use a registered electrician to install your downlighters. For your safety you should check for visible markings on downlighters indicating lamp wattage and lamp type.
Never drill or fix nails in walls without knowing what’s behind them - Walls and partitions conceal electrical cables and gas and water pipes.
Adaptors and extensions around your home?
You can expect to find around four sockets in an average room in a house. Although this is enough for most purposes. The increase in the use of computers, games consoles and other appliances has led to the number of sockets being needed in an average room to increase to eight.
Extension leads and adaptors often provide a quick and easy solution but, in reality, these leads and adaptors are often misused, and can present a very real danger. In extreme cases they can overheat, which can cause a fire.
Use adaptors plugged into other adaptors; or
Overload adaptors, particularly with high-current appliances such as kettles, irons and heaters. (Low –current appliances include radios, televisions, computers and hi-fi equipment.)
Buy cheap, substandard adaptors
The most sensible action would be to install extra sockets. While you are at it, ask a registered electrician like Ryan Askew Electrical & Security Ltd to install twin sockets rather than single ones.
Checking a Plug
Remove the plug from the socket and check the plug is not damaged.
Look for signs of overheating, such as discoloured casing or cable.
Check that the plug is marked British Standard BS 1363
Check that the cable sheath is firmly clamped in the plug and that no coloured wires are showing.
All modern appliances in the UK use the familiar square-pin 13-amp plug. These plugs are used for handheld appliances such as hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, and appliances like microwave ovens. The plug and cable can suffer damage, particularly if they connect to handheld appliances. Checking a plug and its cable does not need a lot of detailed electrical knowledge and these tips should help. With the plug removed from the socket, check the cable from end to end and ask the following questions.
Is the cable cut, worn or damaged in any way?
There should preferably be no joints in the cable, and certainly no repairs with insulating tape.
If for any reason, you need to check that a cable is correctly wired and fused, do the following:
Remove the plug from the socket, and remove the cover. Check that:
The brown wire goes to live (L);
The blue wire goes to neutral (N); and
The green-and-yellow wire goes to earth (E).
Check that the cord clamp holds the cables heath securely and that both of the screws are tight.
Check that the screws holding the three wires are tight.
Check that the fuse is the correct size and meets British Standard BS 1362 - see the manufacturer's instructions if you are not sure what fuse to use. The fuse should clip securely into its holder. It should not be loose and there should be no signs of overheating.
Replace the cover securely
Brown to live (L) Blue to neutral (N) Green and yellow to earth (E)
R. Askew Electrical & Security Limited also offer an appliance repair service to repair and maintain your appliances at a safe standard.
We all know that water and electricity make a lethal combination. So it's important that electrical equipment is installed correctly, and that you use appliances in your kitchen with care.
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
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
From an electrical safety point of view, the bathroom is possibly the most dangerous room in the home. The consequences of an electric shock are far more severe in a bathroom or shower room as wet skin reduces the body's resistance. There are special requirements for electrical installations in bathrooms.
Water carries electricity efficiently. But, if the two mix, the result can be deadly. So, the bathroom is possibly the most dangerous room in the house when it comes to electrical safety. The consequences of an electric shock are far more severe in a bathroom or shower room as wet skin reduces the body’s resistance.
There are special requirements for electrical installations in bathrooms as most electrical work must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations.
We strongly recommend that you use an electrician registered with one of the government-approved schemes to carry out any electrical installation work that you need.
Sockets are not allowed in bathrooms or shower rooms (apart from shaver-supply units) unless they can be fitted at least three metres from the bath or shower.
Electrical shaver points must be a safe distance (in meters) from the bath or shower to avoid splashes
Enclosed ceiling lights are preferable to the ones that hang down.
All light fittings, that are not enclosed, should be out of reach of someone using, or still wet from using, the bath or shower.
Everyday light switches are a danger because of dampness and wet hands. A ceiling-mounted pull-cord switch is the safest option.
Heaters and towel rails
Central heating is the safest way to keep a bathroom warm. But if you do have an electric heater, it must be fixed at a safe distance from the bath or shower.
Electric and gas water heaters in a bathroom must be fixed and permanently wired, unless they are powered by a socket fitted three metres from a bath or shower.
A pull-cord or switch outside the bathroom is the ideal way to control electric heaters.
An electric shower must be supplied on its own circuit directly from your fusebox.
Portable electrical appliances
Never bring mains-powered portable appliances such as hairdryers, heaters or radios into a bathroom. You could be severely injured or killed.