15 minutes to check your family are safe at home

publication date: Sep 22, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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How safe are your home electrics?

A grand total of 37,036 accidental domestic fires took place last year in the UK, causing around 70 deaths and 350,000 serious injuries.


At least half of those result from faulty electrics or misused appliances.


According to  Electrical Safety First, four out of five householders think they behave responsibly and are not at risk, whereas the frightening reality is that many of us unknowingly make routine safety blunders that could start electrical fires at home.


Fires like these are easily preventable, according to ESF, as long as you understand where the risks lie in everyday use of electrical appliances.


So it’s a quarter of an hour well spent to run through our checklist and make sure your home electrics are safe:


Common safety blunders

Check that you’re not guilty of any of these routine causes of domestic fires:

  • Creating a fire hazard by using the microwave as an additional surface and blocking air vents
  • Increasing the risk of serious fire spreading by leaving the tumble dryer running unattended or overnight
  • Blocking air vents by failing to clean behind your fridge/freezer
  • Overloading adaptor sockets, causing an unsafe rise in temperature
  • Using plugs and sockets that are damaged eg cracked
  • Leaving an electrical appliance on while unattended, only to be alerted by a burning smell
  • Using cables and leads in less than perfect condition
  • Using light fittings that are damaged or downlighters that are not visibly in good working condition
  • Storing combustible materials (things like cardboard etc) around your fusebox, electricity meter or electrical intake
  • Trailing cables under carpets or rugs
  • Taking mains-powered electrical items into the bathroom
  • Not switching off your electrical items when they are not in use

Don’t DIY your electrics!
If you don’t know what you’re doing, do not under any circumstances attempt DIY on electrical work. 
A staggering one person in the UK dies every week through attempting DIY on home electrics To help, here’s the Electrical Safety First online ‘socket calculator’ so you can check yours are OK! 

For more tips about specific areas of the home, Click Here

Long-term electrical safety in your home

Other tips to ensure your home is safe in the long term:-


  • Check that you have a Residual Current Device (RCD) in your fusebox – if not, have one installed pronto! - and check it every few months; it’ll switch off your electrics if a fault develops
  • Always use a competent, registered electrician (e.g. NAPIT Registered Electrician)  to do any electrical work in your home
  • Get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out on your home every ten years by a registered, competent electrician; this identifies any problems that need fixing
  • Get the right certificates for electrical work you have done so you have a record if you move house, rent out a room, etc
  • Find out about the legal aspect of electrical domestic work; Part P is a section of the Building Regulations that is designed to protect householders against substandard and dangerous electrical work
  • Ensure that your Local Authority Building Control (LABC) is notified about some types of electrical work in your home – a competent, registered electrician will do this for you


Free resources to help you keep your electrics safe

Download a free ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ app from the ESF’s website


See our on-line checklists and articles:-

How to check your home electrics are safe checklist

Electrical Fire Safety Week

Kitchen Safety

Home Safety

Electricity plays a huge part in our lives, and it’s easy to take it for granted and forget how dangerous it can be. By following our simple safety tips you can avoid the most common safety hazards around the home, and be confident that your family is safe.

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All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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