Safety Hub

Electrical safety

We all have lots of electronic goods in our homes. But using them safely is vital to reduce the risk of fire in your home or workplace.
British Sign Language video for this safety page

Electrical items are found in nearly every room of the house.

We all have lots of electronic goods in our homes. From larger goods like washing machines, tumble dryers and fridges to smaller gadgets like kitchen appliances, laptops or mobile phones.

It's more essential than ever to understand how to care for these products correctly, follow manufacturer instructions, and be safe.

This particularly applies to the smaller items that have rechargeable batteries such as phones and laptops. Our sections below detail how to keep safe with a variety of electronics.

 

Phones and Gadgets

Mobile phones, tablets and laptops – just some of the ways we communicate. Looking after and charging them properly is important.

  • NEVER leave items charging under pillows or on/in your bed
  • don’t overcharge items. Once they’re charged, unplug them
  • don’t use fake chargers – always use branded, genuine plugs and cables
  • if cables become broken, frayed or damaged, stop using and replace them
  • check that the output voltage and current ratings marked on the charger and your electrical device are the same
  • always buy goods from reputable retailers and check they meet British safety standards

Microwaves

Microwaves are very handy, but can be dangerous. Many fires can start in microwaves if they’re not used properly.

  • never leave cooking items unattended
  • never use metal or non-microwave containers in a microwave
  • be very careful with non-food items like wheat-based hand/body warmers. They can continue to heat after the microwave stops, causing a fire
  • Only place containers, plates and bowls that are certified to be safe for use in a microwave.

Electric Blankets

Age UK say that damaged electric blankets cause more than 5‚000 house fires a year, and people aged 65 or more are at greatest risk. Danger signs include: fraying fabric, scorch marks, exposed elements, a worn flex.

  • never use an electric blanket if it’s wet, and never switch it on to dry it
  • never use a hot water bottle and an electric blanket together
  • make sure the power’s turned off at the wall and the blanket’s unplugged when not in use
  • always spread the blanket out flat – never use it folded
  • store the blanket carefully when it is not in use
  • always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular blanket.

Small Electrical Goods

Kettles, toasters, blenders and more. Small electrical items make our kitchens. Here are some tips on using them:

  • never leave them unattended when in use
  • always ensure wiring is in good condition and sockets aren’t overloaded
  • if you spill water or other liquids over them, switch them off at the wall and have an electrician test them before using them again
  • don’t overfill things like kettles and blenders
  • always follow manufacturers’ guidelines.

E-cigarettes and vaping

You should always follow the manufacturers guidelines when using an e-cigarette or vape unit. Ensure you carefully read and adhere to any warnings supplied with the product such as battery capacities, charging voltages and using the correct charger.

  • Do not change or modify your e-cigarette or vape, and if you are replacing parts ensure you only use approved replacement ones
  • Make sure your e-cigarette or vape isn’t left charging beyond when it’s full
  • Never leave your e-cigarette or vape charging unattended, either overnight or when you’re out of the house
  • When purchasing a new e-cigarette or vape make sure all the parts are from reputable retailers and that they comply with European Safety standards – they should display the CE mark
  • Never keep your e-cigarette or vape batteries loose in your pocket, particularly next to keys or coins. They can short or heat up and could cause burns or fire.

Large Electrical Goods

They help us to keep our clothes clean and dry and our food fresh. Here are some key tips to keeping your large electrical goods safe:

  • don’t leave them on overnight or unattended
  • remove the lint and fluff from filters on tumble dryers and washing machines
  • keep appliances ventilated and use correct wiring and venting pipes (where appropriate)
  • purchase goods from a reputable dealer and follow manufacturers’ instructions for installing, using and cleaning
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