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Electrical safety

We use electrical appliances, plugs and cables everyday. They can become worn out or dangerous. You may not notice hazards when it’s something that you see in your house every day. Here are a few things to be aware of. If you notice any of these issues it’s time to replace or repair your electrical items, sockets or cables to help keep you and your home safe.

If you have any doubts about the safety of a piece of electrical equipment DO NOT USE IT and get a qualified electrican to carry out any repairs for you.


Heat Damage

Heat damage can often be seen on electrical equipment such as a plug sockets or an extension cables. You can see signs of overheating on or around the live pin of the 3-pin plug. In this case the excessive heat has scorched the live output of the wall socket.

Heat damaged socket

If you notice and heat or physical damage to sockets, stop using that socket and get a qualified electrician to investigate the problem.

Heat damaged extension cable

Physical Damage to Electrical Equipment

If your electrical item is damaged it’s dangerous to use it. This example shows an iron which has part of it’s case missing, giving easy access to the electrical cables inside. You are at risk of an electric shock if you continue to use an item in this condition. Please dispose of any items like this and replace it as soon as possible.

damaged iron

Damage to Cables/Cords

Cables and cords are an essential part of most electrical appliances. They can also be a weak link if not cared for correctly. The cable insulation on this iron has come away from the plug because it was not secured correctly. An appliance in this state should not be used. This kind of fault can be fixed by removing the plug, shortening the cable and securing both the cables and the insulation to the plug.

damaged cable

Many of us will have attempted to ‘repair’ a cable with tape. Tape is not a permanent repair and appliances in this state should not be used. Unfortunately most cables on appliances such as irons cannot be replaced and the appliance has to be replaced.

cable

Homemade Extension Leads

Homemade extension leads are fine when made by a qualified person.  This home made extension lead was poorly built with the use of tape protecting the cable from sharp edges.

homemade extension lead

A closer look highlights that the extension lead was made without an earth cable! (Using a 2-core cable, brown and blue only). The earth cable is needed to protect you from an electric shock in the event of a fault developing within the appliance. Please do not use homemade leads or appliances.

unearthed extension

Out of Date Equipment

Some older equipment is not safe for using with modern electricity supplies. This extremely old adapter was found in a home in Newcastle in 2013. This was used before we had wall sockets! This kind of equipment should no longer be used.

out of date equipment

If you have any doubts about the integrity or safety of a piece of electrical equipment DO NOT USE IT.


Other Useful Information

  • The Electrical Competent Person website supported by the government provides an easy to use and single information point for you to find a registered, competent electrician in your area, or to check that a company you are planning on using is registered.
  • First Contact Newcastle Referral Scheme is a free service where you can receive information and support from trusted organisations in Newcastle such as The Fire Service who can fit smoke alarms and Trading Standards who can carry out electrical safety testing in your home for free. Complete the questionnaire on Information Now to find out about the full range of support available.
  • Electrical Safety for older people handbook – Electrical Safety First have free advice and a helpful guide to download.
  • Affordable electrical goods are available in Newcastle if you need to replace any of your white goods, or are looking to purchase computers or tablet devices.

Thank you to Newcastle Trading Standards for their support to develop this article.

Last updated: February 24, 2017

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