Graham Thomson, our Building Safety Manager, offers his advice on how to stay safe with all your electrical appliances around the home.
It’s hard to imagine a life without the various electrical appliances we use every day. From putting on the kettle to charging our phones, we’re a plugged-in nation a lot of the time. It can be easy, however, to take for granted the safety of the electronics around us.
Research from consumer group Which? has found that faulty, incorrectly installed or poorly maintained household appliances are the cause of thousands of fires every year. Washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers pose the biggest risk, but fires have also been caused by everything from fridges and ovens to TVs and irons.
We all know not to stick anything metal in the plug socket, but how many of us are guilty of plugging extension leads into other extension leads? We want to feel safe in our homes, so make sure your electrics are protected with our handy guide.
Avoid power surges
A power surge is when there’s a massive sudden spike in electrical current. This can cause long-lasting damage to electrical appliances which, if left untreated, can become dangerous – sparking electrical fires, for instance. There are many causes of power surges, some unavoidable (like lightning) as well as some which can be prevented. Electrical overloads are one such cause that’s easily avoided.
Keep your cables tidy
If you’ve ever had a little one charging around or someone with reduced mobility in your home, you’ll know that pretty much anything can turn into a trip hazard. Whether it's a stray charging cable left around, or a lead that’s stretched to its limit, these hazards not only pose a risk to you and your family but also to your devices. Keeping cables tidy and tucked away is both safe and simple. You don’t have to fork out for fancy equipment. Elastic bands can work just as well.
Unplug devices which aren’t being used
Another great tip is to make sure you unplug any appliances you’re not using or don’t use regularly. This stops them from draining power unnecessarily. When devices like our computer are left on standby but not turned off at the wall, they often continue to use up power. Switching them off and unplugging them doesn’t just save money, it also helps look after your appliances as they’re less at risk of power surges.
Fix faulty appliances
Older appliances and those that have seen lots of use are more prone to defects and damage. And a faulty appliance can cause electric shocks. That’s why it’s especially important to always be careful with older devices, especially those where wiring might be showing. To stay safe, always get any fault looked at and by a skilled specialist. If you have a fault on a fixed appliance, please check with us to see if the repair is covered by your Tenancy Agreement. It’s also important that you register any new appliance with the manufacturer. This will activate any warranty and it means they can contact you if there are any recalls of faulty products.
Look out for warning signs
When it comes to looking for faulty electronics, some warning signs - like smoke, the smell of burning, or appliances getting very hot, for example - are obvious. Whilst other signs might be less noticeable, they’re just as important to look out for. If an electrical appliance or plug socket has any black marks or scorching around it, this is often an indication that something’s wrong. Frayed or damaged leads are another way to tell there may be a fault that needs attention.
Keep up to date with compliance checks
We carry out a number of important regular safety checks on your home, like electrical, gas and other heating equipment. If you want to find out when items are due for their next compliance safety checks, you can use our new online services. Register today to get organised and for peace of mind.