9 most common electrical hazards in your home

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To avoid electrical hazards in your home, you should regularly check appliances for frayed cords, keep outlets away from water sources, supervise children around electrical outlets, avoid DIY wiring jobs, and avoid overloading outlets.

Always turn off the power before working on any appliance and remove any unsafe or damaged electrical equipment or cords. Use battery-powered tools whenever possible and ensure proper isolation and tag-out procedures are active.

Regularly test and tag electrical appliances to guarantee they are in working order, and only allow licensed and registered electricians to perform electrical work.

It is important to understand potential hazards and how they can be caused to avoid them. When purchasing electrical products or renewable products such as solar, batteries, and EV car chargers, engage with a qualified local supplier or installer for extensive advice.

How do you avoid electrical hazards in your home?

Let’s make your home safer from electricity-related dangers! As more electric gadgets become a part of our lives, the risk of accidents from electricity also increases. Many serious accidents happen yearly due to electrical mishaps, so knowing what causes and how to prevent them is crucial. This article outlines some common electrical hazards in your home and how to avoid them.

Old electrical appliances

Even though your appliance may look good, it can still be a hazard. Old devices account for the highest number of electrical hazards in your home.

More specifically, frayed cords that come with old electrical appliances cause issues. To avoid these issues, make sure that you regularly check your appliances for frayed cords. For example, periodically check your charging cables for laptops and phones, as they are prone to damage since they are often used.

If you notice fraying or damage, make sure that you replace it as soon as possible. You can easily buy a replacement for some cords, like phone chargers. Contacting a professional to replace the line for cables within complex equipment such as switchboards is best.

old electrical appliance

Water

As many of us know, water is a conductor of electricity. Subsequently, water can cause fatal accidents if they come in contact with each other.

Water-related electrical hazards in your home usually occur when electrical outlets are located near water sources. Therefore, you must install electrical outlets as far away from water sources as possible, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. 

Another problem that can cause issues is handling electrical appliances with wet hands. For example, many people need to use the hairdryer directly after coming out of the shower, which is risky. Make sure you are completely dry before handling any electrical appliances.

Children

The risk of electrical hazards in your home increases significantly when children are around. This is because curious children try to tamper with electrical outlets, usually with their fingers or other objects.

If left unsupervised, children may pull plugs out, hit plugs or generally play with them. As a parent, guardian or supervisor, you should take extra precautions around electrical outlets. If you have or regularly have children at your house, we strongly recommend purchasing child-proof electrical outlets. 

Poor wiring

Poor wiring is another primary reason for many electrical hazards in your home. If your wiring is defective, it can lead to fires and power surges. This is why it is essential to have a professional do your wiring and avoid DIY jobs.

Furthermore, experts recommend regular maintenance and inspections by qualified electricians to ensure no corrosion or worn-out wires pose potential hazards. The electrician will come to your house and assess your wiring. While this may sound unnecessary, it may be why there is no electricity-related incident in your home.

 

bad electrical wiring - an electrical hazard
Electrical wiring undertaken by a home handyman as in this example is a fire risk waiting to strike

Overloaded outlets

A common habit that many homeowners have nowadays is using extension cords to charge more devices than they previously could. However, loading too many appliances on one outlet can significantly increase the fire and power surge risk.

These hazards can occur because each outlet is only rated to a specific power rating, and exceeding it can become problematic. Ensure you avoid relying on extension cords as a permanent substitute for a power outlet, or check the power rating of your outlets before using an extension cord.

Power on inspection

Another way electrical hazards can occur in your home is when you inspect an electrical appliance while it still receives an electrical charge. Always ensure that the appliance and the power outlet are turned off when repairing, moving or maintaining any electrical device. 

Not using ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)

People today underuse GFCIs, electrical safety devices designed to detect imbalances within an electrical circuit and prevent electric shocks and power surges. People use GFCIs in the most commonly used outlets, such as in the bathroom and kitchen.

GFCIs are cheap and worth the investment.

Outdoor electrical hazards for your home

As everything today is moving towards being electrical, the amount of appliances we use outside has increased. Having electricity exposed to the environment drastically increases risks. Anything from water splashing from a pool into an outlet to a stick slicing a cord can create an issue.

If you have exposed cords and outlets outside, you must purchase covers. This will protect anything coming into direct contact with them, subsequently minimising the risk of an incident.

If you have a lot of electrical appliances outside within one area, you should look into electrical grounding. This is where the electricity from the various devices can be directed through a singular wire that travels through the ground. The wire will then safely discharge excess electricity to the ground, removing the risk of overheating and fires.

Overheating

Most electrical devices create heat when used, so when left on for a long time, they can overheat and cause a fire. This is common for many bathroom and kitchen appliances, such as a hair dryer. When using a device that creates heat, ensure you only use it for the required time and then turn it off.

You should also be aware of where devices that create heat are located. Do not have anything flammable near these devices. For example, do not put a bath towel on top of a hair dryer while it is turned on.

General tips

Here are our top tips to minimise electrical hazards in your home:

  • Ensure the proper isolation and tag-out procedures are active
  • Residual current or safety switches can be used with portable equipment according to the WHS Regulations
  • Use battery-powered tools instead of mains power tools, if possible
  • Turn off all electricity before working on any appliance
  • Regularly test and tag electrical appliances to guarantee it is in working order
  • Only allow licensed and registered electricians to perform electrical work
  • Remove any unsafe or damaged electrical equipment or cords from your workspace
  • Do not overload any power sockets

Since nearly all household appliances require electricity to work, you must know how to run and operate them safely as a homeowner. Even with all the benefits of electricity, it can still threaten our safety if you do not handle it properly. Therefore, if you understand the potential electrical hazards in your home and how they can be caused, it will be easier for you to avoid them. 

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