Of all the DIY jobs that homeowners can take on, the electrics are some that really shouldn’t be touched by an untrained hand. Electrical fires account for over 20,000 fires in UK homes each year, usually caused by anything from faulty wiring, incorrect installation or problems with electrical products themselves.
For homeowners wanting to change or install new electrics, it’s always best to hire a fully trained professional electrician and it’s important to make sure that they have public liability insurance for electricians and are fully covered. Here, we’ve listed some of the most common electrical hazards found in homes in the UK.
#1 Poor Or Defective Wiring
The quality of both the wiring itself and the installation is vital to ensuring the safety of any electrical system within a home. Good quality wiring and cable that conforms to all safety standards is a vital part of preventing fires, power surges, arc faults and more. Qualified, approved electricians should always utilise approved wiring, and provide an installation that also adheres to all standards and training needed. However, old wiring can also cause issues, particularly if it is damaged, cracked, worn so it’s important to ensure that all wiring is checked on a semi-regular basis, especially in older buildings.
#2 Wet Hands
One of the biggest causes of accidents and injury within a home is handling electrical appliances or outlets with wet hands. Water acts as a conductor, meaning that your chances of getting an electric shock are heightened considerably when your hands are wet. While injuries from this can be minor, it’s vital to be careful as this isn’t always the case. Keep electrical appliances away from any sources of water and make sure to dry your hands thoroughly before operating any.
#3 Electrical Outlets Too Close To Water
On a similar strain, electrical outlets too close to a water source can pose a risk of electric shocks. Electricians should always install any outlets a safe distance away from any water sources in and around the home, and homeowners should never use electrical devices such as hairdryers, radios or non-water-safe equipment in or around the bath, shower, pools or sinks.
#4 Young Children
While most parents take every precaution to keep their children away from electrics and outlets, inquisitive or determined children may still break free of supervision to investigate. Parents can and should replace any reachable outlets and sockets with extra-safe alternatives, which typically operate in a way that prevents any fingers or sharp objects from being poked into the holes. You can buy temporary plug covers in the meantime, though it’s still important to supervise children in this case, as they can be removed.
#5 Extension Cords
Extension cords are incredibly useful, but they can also be incredibly dangerous if not used properly. They should be carefully and securely fixed into place to reduce chances of tripping, and plastic socket closures are useful on any unused sockets to prevent shocks. You should avoid overloading the cord as much as possible, and you should never plug one extension cord into another. If you find yourself permanently short on plug sockets, an electrician can install new outlets around the home in key places for a safer alternative.
#6 Heavily Covered Wiring
If the wiring around a property is heavily covered, it may be at risk of overheating and starting a fire. It’s best to make sure that any wires from appliances are kept away from other items where possible, and uncovered by any furniture, blankets or other textiles. Wire-heavy areas, such as around computers and TVs, should be given enough ventilation to let out heat to ensure that wires can remain as cool as possible and prevent overheating.
Lightbulbs on their own are very unlikely to cause electrical fires or shocks, providing that the light is switched off when changing the bulb. However, the heat from a lightbulb can be a source of danger, particularly when it’s surrounded by textile items. This includes beds, drapes, other upholstery or plastics, which may overheat and cause fires if left for a prolonged period of time. It’s also crucial to use the right bulbs and wattage for your light fitting for optimum safety.
#8 Buzzing Noises From Electrical Outlets
Buzzing noises from any of the electrical outlets in your home aren’t something you should ignore. In fact, it’s crucial that you immediately remove any plugs from the sockets and switch them off, and avoid using them at all until a qualified electrician has taken a look and made the repair. Crackling and buzzing noises usually mean that electricity is arcing, which can be a highly dangerous situation if not handled quickly.
If you are an electrician and are looking for ways to protect you and your clients in the case of accidents, feel free to get in touch with Ashburnham Insurance to find out more today.