According to statistics from Electrical Safety First, between 2015/16 there were 28,350 fires and 15,432 of those were of electrical origin. Approximately half of all electrical fires were due to misuse of an appliance or articles being too close to them. The other half were caused by faults. Of those fires, there were 1380 fatalities and injuries, which averages four every single day.
Electricity is a huge part of everyday life and fills our homes. From lighting and heating to powering our fridges and ovens, we rely on electricity on a day-to-day basis. With a number of electrical appliances in our homes, it’s important to acknowledge that it takes just a single faulty plug to cause a fire.
Electrical work on your property should only ever be undertaken by a fully qualified and experienced electrician, however, there are things that you can do – from knowing the signs of electrical overload in the home to taking the steps to reduce the chance of that happening.
Lights only use a small amount of power, so if you notice lights are flickering or dimming, it’s likely to be being caused by too many appliances on the same circuit being used. It may be worth to get an electrician’s opinion on moving your lights to a different circuit.
Sparking from a breaker, outlet or fuse box requires an electrician immediately. Stop using the outlet and avoid using it again until an electrician has confirmed it is safe to do so. Sparking from an appliance may be caused by the appliance itself. In which case, either get the item repaired or replaced.
Extension leads should only be used when absolutely necessary and then, only for a limited amount of time. Prone to kinks and shorting out, extensions leads can get damaged and this often leads to fires that could have easily been avoided.
Trip Breakers/Blown Fuses
When a circuit breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown, it’s doing exactly what it’s designed to do. Circuit breakers are most commonly caused to trip when there is an electrical overload. When circuit wires heat up during use, the circuit breaker will shut off the flow of electricity.
As the flow of electricity should be smooth, any buzzing is a cause for concern. Loose prongs or outlets or frayed wires may cause noise to be produced. If so, call an electrician to examine the situation.
Outlets and switch plate should never become hot. If this occurs, unplug whatever is connected to the outlet and try it in a different one to rule out whether it’s the appliance to blame or the outlet. Outlets which become hot during use could be a result of incorrect wiring. This should be resolved by a qualified electrician.
Incorrect Bathroom/Kitchen Outlets
Water is a conductor of electricity so it’s essential that bathrooms and kitchen have shock-resistant outlets. These are known as ground fault circuit interrupters. If you have outlets in either of these rooms, ensure that they are GFCIs and not standard outlets like what you see throughout the rest of your home.
A smell coming from brand new appliances during the first few uses is relatively normal. However, if there is a smell coming from an outlet, turn it off immediately and hire an electrician to check for any faults.
If you’re looking to gain the qualifications to undertake domestic electrical work, take a look at our DEI Award training course. Or you can also enrol on our NVQ Electrical Training Course, which trains you to become an installation electrician.