Unless you live in a shack up a mountain, electrical appliances play a huge role in day-to-day life. From TVs, tablets and toasters, to phones, vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, most of our home appliances require electricity to run.
We tend to take electricity for granted, but it’s always important to keep in mind the danger it can pose when things go wrong or appliances are faulty.
Thousands of people are injured or killed every year from home accidents during DIY electrical projects, or from fires caused by faulty electrical products. Many of these accidents are preventable, so we’ve prepared a list of simple, easy-to-follow tips to help keep your life free from any unexpected shocks.
1. Keep an eye on older electrical appliances
Every electrical device is built with an ‘expected’ expiry date set out by the supplier. Wear and tear impacts every appliance in your home – and electrical devices are no exception.
Don’t take your electrical appliances for granted – always take note if something in your house is working differently to how it used to. If you’re hearing odd noises coming from a unit, or if the sockets are beginning to get hot with everyday use, there could be a cause for concern.
If in doubt, always get it checked out! Generally speaking, the older an appliance is, the higher the risk of a malfunction with it.
2. Know your electrical hotspots
Every home has areas that can be a higher risk for electrical issues than others – but do you know where yours are?
One of the easiest ways to reduce electrical hazards in the home is to do a simple safety assessment in each room. For example, take a look at rooms in your house that are used every day with multiple appliances active at once. Outdoor outlets or rooms that are prone to dampness, such as the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room present a higher risk.
A lot of these areas will probably include GFCI outlets – which monitor spikes in electrical currents, to prevent potential electric shocks from devices plugged into the outlets. However, these GFCI outlets will wear out in 5-10 years, depending on their wear and tear. You can check these outlets frequently by pressing the red test button. Make sure to hit the black reset button when you’re done and contact a licensed electrician immediately if you’re unsure.
3. Always use the right equipment
If you’re ever checking on electrical wiring, or doing an electrical project yourself, it’s vital to have the right equipment for the job.
Make sure you wear rubber gloves and only use rubber gripped tools. It’s important to use testers on wires so you know which are live.
One mistake can be fatal, so whether you’re installing new appliances or just changing a light, take the necessary precautions to avoid an accident (that’s if you choose to do it yourself – we highly recommend using a professional electrician for any electrical work).
4. Make fire safety your priority
Most electrical fires are caused by faulty or damaged wiring. Each year, arcing faults are responsible for starting more than 28,000 home fires in the US.
There are a few things you can do to avoid an electrical fire:
- Make sure you’re using the correct wattage
- Don’t overload your outlets
- Avoid using multiple extension cords in one room
- Unplug unused appliances
If you notice any unusual smells coming from your sockets, or if they feel unusually hot, you might have a problem with your wiring.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you try to be, fires sometimes happen anyway. The best plan of action is to be as prepared as possible: ensure all of your smoke detectors are working and create an evacuation plan with your family that can be used in the case of an emergency.
5. Have a go-to electrician you can trust
Don't try to do any electrical maintenance yourself – always enlist the help of a professional. Working with anything electrical carries a level of risk – get professional, trained electrical experts in.
It’s always better to call a professional for electrical work and inspections. If there’s any doubt, get some help!