Electricity is so commonplace in our lives that it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. An average of 20 people die by electrocution in Australia every year, with the majority of those deaths occurring at home. While accidents will always happen, much of the risk can be mitigated by following these simple electricity dos and don’ts around the house.
- Always assume that power is flowing
For any electrical appliance, it’s always safest to assume that it’s plugged in and that power is flowing. This includes devices that you know are (or believe to be) non-functional and any devices that are currently not switched on and plugged in.
By following this rule, you will always remain cautious around electricity, ensuring you think twice before potentially endangering yourself.
- Be careful with electrical equipment in damp rooms
It’s common knowledge that electricity and water do not mix. To minimise the chance of these two elements crossing and injuring you, try to avoid using or storing any electrical equipment in damp rooms. Any condensation or moisture can interfere with the equipment and increase the risk of electrical shocks.
If you do need to use a device in a damp or cold room, such as a hairdryer in a bathroom, make sure the device is dry before plugging it in and turning it on. When you’re finished, ensure the device is dry and store it somewhere dry.
- Turn off electrical device if you spill water on them
Using a device that is wet can increase the risk of electric shock, as well as potentially damage the device. If water does come into contact with an electrical device, turn the device off and unplug it immediately.
To dry the device, you should thoroughly wipe down the outside, before leaving it to drain and dry in a warm, dry place. Give the device a day to dry before switching it back on to be sure there is no moisture left.
- Unplug electrical devices in thunderstorms
Power surges during a thunderstorm can damage your electrical appliances and increase the risk of electric shock. To be safe during a thunderstorm, you should unplug your delicate or costly electrical appliances like TVs and computers to reduce the risk of surge-related damage.
- Childproof all outlets
If you have young children, ensure that all electrical outlets are covered. Curious children may try to stick objects or their fingers into the outlets and can electrocute themselves as a result.
When your children are old enough to understand electricity is dangerous, you can remove the outlet covers.
- Know where fuse boxes are and how to turn off the power
In an emergency, you may need to turn off all power to your home. The safest and easiest way to do this is through your fuse or circuit box. Knowing how to do this quickly can save someone’s life.
Turning off the power is also the first step in stopping an electrical fire. Once the power is off, it is safe to use water to extinguish the fire.
- Don’t touch electrical equipment with wet hands
Just as you shouldn’t use an electrical device that is wet, you should never use an electrical device with wet hands. The water can easily transfer onto the device, shocking you, causing a short and damaging the device.
- Don’t keep appliances near sinks, showers or baths
To minimise interaction between water and electrical equipment, avoid keeping appliances and devices near sinks, showers or baths. In extreme events, appliances or devices may fall into a bath, shower or sink while it is being used and cause severe injury or death.
- Don’t overload outlets or power boards
It can be frustrating when you don’t have enough power outlets in an area, but you need to avoid overloading outlets and power boards. When overloaded, shorts can occur, which may shock you or start fires.
- Don’t use frayed cords
We’re all guilty of continuing to use a device cable or extension cord for longer than is safe. But a frayed or damaged cord isn’t worth the risk. Instead, you’re better off purchasing a new cord and throwing the other in the bin. Otherwise, you’re constantly risking an electrical fire as damaged cords can short out.
- Don’t do your own wiring or repairs
No matter how minor, do not attempt to fix any electrical problems in your home. If you notice any signs of electrical problems, call an electrician. It can be easy to make a deadly mistake when working with electricity, so it’s better to leave it to the professionals.
Use electricity safely in your home by following the rules above. Remember to always treat electrical devices with caution and avoid mixing water with electricity.