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Electrical safety advice

Useful guides to electrical safety around the house.

Electrics can be extremely dangerous and are the leading cause of domestic fires in the UK. Use our practical advice to reduce the risk of causing a fire or getting an electric shock at home.

Remember, all electrical work or repairs must always be done by an NICEIC-registered electrician

Plugs, cables and sockets

Make sure your plugs, cables and sockets are all in good working order. Don’t overload sockets with too many appliances – if you need an adaptor, use a good quality multi-socket extension lead.

  • Keep electrical leads away from water
  • Never use visibly damaged plugs, cables or sockets.
  • Ensure plugs fit tightly into sockets.
  • Fully extend extension leads before use.
  • Don’t run cables or extension leads under carpets or rugs.
  • Don’t overload sockets with too many electrical appliances.

Electrical appliances and lights

Only buy electronic appliances and items from trustworthy sources and use according to the manufacturer’s guidance.

  • Always keep electrical appliances away from water.
  • Switch off electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Always follow the manufacturer guidance for electric items.
  • Only use chargers supplied with mobile phones and devices.
  • Don’t leave mobile phones or devices charging overnight.
  • Use the correct type and wattage of bulb for light fittings.

Electric heaters and electric blankets

  • Don’t cover heaters or dry clothes on them.
  • If possible, secure heaters to walls so they can’t fall over.
  • Position heaters away from flammable bedding, curtains and furniture.
  • Don’t leave heaters unattended or fall asleep with them on.
  • Don’t switch electric blankets on while folded or crumpled up.
  • Don’t use a hot water bottle with an electric blanket.
  • Check electric blankets for scorch marks.

More information about electrical safety

Electrical Safety First: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.

National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting: www.niceic.com.

Bathroom safety tips

  • Plug sockets are not allowed unless fitted three metres from a bath or shower.
  • Electric showers must be supplied on their own circuits directly from your fuse box.
  • Electrical shaver points must be a safe distance from the bath or shower.
  • Enclosed ceiling lights are safer than hanging lights.
  • Ceiling-mounted pull-cord lights switches are safer than wall-mounted light switches.
  • Never use mains-powered portable appliances like hairdryers, heaters or radios.

Kitchen safety tips

  • Sockets or switches must be at least 30cm from the sink.
  • Don’t leave appliances like dishwashers or washing machines running unattended.
  • Don’t clean or repair appliances while they are plugged in.
  • Keep your hob, oven and grill clean – build-ups of fat and grease are a major fire risk.
  • Don’t store objects on top of microwaves as this can block ventilation.

DIY safety tips

  • Make sure your tools are all in good condition and check their leads and plugs.
  • Use a cable detector to avoid drilling, nailing or screwing into cables inside your walls.
  • Use a residual current device (RCD) to cut off the power in emergency.
  • Turn off the power when working near electrical wiring and use battery-powered tools.
  • Get professional advice from a registered electrician: if you’re not sure what to do, don't do it yourself.

Product recall: Hotpoint or Indesit washing machines

500,000 Hotpoint and Indesit washing machines have been identified as potential fire hazards and need to be replaced by their manufacturer.

If you have a Hotpoint or Indesit washing machine visit the Whirlpool UK website to find out if you have one of the models affected.