Safety Around Your Home

Top Energy is concerned about your safety around your home. With the help of ACC and others we have compiled the following helpful information and tips on how to use electricity safely in and around your home, information on using electrical equipment and appliances safely, working with cables and wiring and working with electricity outdoors. There are also safety tips on getting electrical work done and doing it yourself.

  • Keep all cords and appliances dry and clear of water or damp areas both inside and outside.
  • Always have dry hands when touching electrical appliances or sockets.
  • Use Residual Current Devices (RCD’s) in the damp areas in your home, such as the bathroom, laundry, kitchen, garage, pools and spas, or when working with electrical equipment outside (An RCD monitors electric currents flowing along a circuit. If it detects a current being diverted to the earth (such as through a person), it cuts the power off instantly – preventing an electric shock being fatal.
  • Make sure all electric cords are in good condition before using them. Check for any damaged or exposed wires, fraying or cracked leads, and cracked or broken power sockets or plug tops.
  • Replace any damaged leads correctly or have them professionally repaired.
  • Limit the number of appliances plugged into a socket or extension cord, to avoid overloading. Use one heater only per socket.
  • Check and replace any sockets where the plug does not fit firmly into the outlet – a loose contact is unsafe.
  • Always watch appliances when in use. When not in use, switch them off at the wall and unplug them.
  • Buy the latest electrical safety products when renovating and rewiring your home.
  • Use safety devices such as recessed and shuttered sockets, shrouded plugs and RCD’s.
  • Always employ a licensed electrician for electrical repairs, to ensure the work is done to legal safety standards. Ask to see their practising licence and make sure you receive a Certificate of Compliance for all electrical work done on installations and fittings (except maintenance work such as replacing sockets and light fittings). Ask for an Electrical Safety Certificate for repair work done on appliances.
  • When changing fuses or doing electrical work around the house, or if there is an electrical problem, always disconnect the power by turning the main power switch off first.
    Remember, a heater is a fire hazard. Follow the ‘Heater Metre Rule’ and keep heaters at least one metre away from bedding, clothes, curtains, rugs and furniture.

Electricity is energy. Through the movement of electrons, electricity has the power to heat, to light, to move things and to make things work. Electricity travels along a circuit. When you plug something in and turn it on, you complete the electrical circuit from the power station to your home. Electricity can flow through some materials easily, such as metal and water. These are called conductors. Materials, such as rubber, plastic, glass and ceramics are called insulators because electricity does not travel easily through them. An electrical current will flow to make a circuit. If something that conducts electricity gives it an easy path to the ground, it will take it. People are conductors of electricity as our bodies are mostly water.

The Risks
Electricity is clean, efficient and instantly available for use. However, it cannot be seen or heard and has no smell. The risks involved with using electricity are electric shock, burns and fire. Electric shock can cause muscle spasms, breathing failure, irregular heartbeat, severe burns, unconsciousness and can kill you. Burns caused by electricity occur along the path the electric current takes through the body, including the skin, nerves, muscles and tissues. Fires occur when electrical appliances overheat, or when furniture and fittings come into contact with an electrical heat source such as a heater or stove. The New Zealand Fire Service estimates that 10% of all fires are caused through electrical accidents.

Recognise the Warning Signs
To prevent electrical accidents, be aware of the warning signs, including:
• a tingling feeling when you touch an appliance or fitting
• appliances or fittings hotter than normal to the touch
• fuses frequently blowing or circuit breakers tripping and needing to be reset
• dim or flickering lights
• unusual smells or noises
• scorch marks on plugs or sockets or any electrical appliance or fitting,
• power going off in your home unexpectedly, and
• damaged insulation or fittings – such as cables, flexes, cords, and switches showing exposed wiring.

Safety Guidelines
We use electricity every day so it is easy to take for granted. This is when electrical accidents can occur. To prevent electrical accidents and stay safe around your home, follow the safety guidelines in the information links below:
1. Around water
2. Electrical equipment and appliances
3. Electric wiring
4. Fuses and circuit breakers
5. Electricity outdoors & Recreational Safety
6. Getting electrical work done