8 Most Dangerous Home Electrical Hazards
With our modern reliance on electricity, there are potential electrical safety hazards in any home, office, or factory. Fortunately, these hazards can be eliminated or reduced by staying aware and taking steps to eliminate their dangers, ideally with the assistance of an electrician. These are eight of the most dangerous electrical hazards that could arise in any home.
1. Poor Wiring and Defective Electric Wires
Good quality wiring that conforms to safety standards is vital for safety. Poor wiring can increase chance of fire, power surges, arc faults, and other serious consequences. For this reason, it’s always best to avoid do-it-yourself electrical work and get professional electricians to perform electrical wiring around the house.
Damaged, worn, cracked or corroded electrical wires can increase the chance of electrical accidents. Have a qualified electrician check your wiring on a regular basis to ensure wiring is safe. If you need to, upgrade and replace old and faulty wires.
Some hazards include:
- Loose or improper connections, such as electrical outlets or switches
- Frayed appliance or extension cords
- Pinched or pierced wire insulation, which could occur from, for example, a chair leg sitting on an extension cord
- Cracked wire insulation caused by heat, age, corrosion or bending
- Overheated wires or cords
- Damaged electrical appliances
- Electrical wire that has been chewed by rodents
2. Outlets Close to Water
Outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and other living areas with water should be installed a fair distance away from the water source. As water conducts electricity, keeping outlets away from water reduces the chance of electric shock.
Never use a radio, hair dryer, phone, or other device in the bath, near the pool, or anywhere with a wet floor.
3. Wet Hands
Similarly, electrical appliances should never be handled with wet hands as this heightens the chance of getting an electric shock. Yet too many of us tend to reach for the hair dryer with wet hands out of the shower. Keep appliances far away from sinks, bathtubs, showers, and taps.
4. Pouring Water on Electrical Fires
A common error is pouring water on electrical fires. If an electrical fire does occur, avoid pouring water on the flames as water will further fuel the fire and could cause electrocution. Keep a fire extinguisher on site if you’re worried about electrical fires and use that instead of water in times of emergency. If you don’t have one nearby, turn off your electrical power, evacuate your home and call the fire brigade.
5. Inquisitive Young Children
Young babies and toddlers tend to be extremely inquisitive and keen to explore their world. While it’s always best to supervise children of this age all the time, parents and adults expecting children at their house can take extra measures to protect young children.
Any electrical outlet at their height and within their reach can be replaced with EXTRA-SAFE powerpoints. These can be interchanged with normal powerpoint and prevent sharp objects and fingers from going into the socket. Unprotected sockets can lead to serious injury.
6. Extension Cords
Extension cords should be carefully fixed in place where possible to reduce the chance of tripping or accident. Use plastic socket closures on unused sockets. Don’t use extension cords as a permanent substitute for additional power sockets, and avoid using them for too many appliances at once.
We don’t often think of lightbulbs as being electrical hazards, but the potential for an electrical fire arises when lightbulbs are kept near flammable materials. These can include beds, drapes, plastics, or other items such as upholstery.
Lights, like all sources of electricity, can also cause electric shock, so ensure you always turn the light switch off before replacing a light bulb, and never replace a light bulb or touch a light switch with wet hands. Always ensure you use a light bulb with the correct wattage to prevent overheating.
8. Covered Electrical Cords and Wires
Heavy covering of wires can cause the cords to overheat, which could lead to an electrical fire. Keep cords and wires away from other items and keep them uncovered.
Similarly, make sure that items like computers and televisions have enough space around them for ventilation, to prevent them from overheating.
- Never try to repair electrical appliances yourself, always contact a licensed electrician.
- Check your appliances regularly for faulty switches, plugs and frayed cords.
- Avoid overloading power boards with too many appliances at once. E.g. If you have a heater plugged into the power board, unplug it before using the hair dryer.
- Never poke anything into an appliance while it is plugged in or in use.
- Always use outdoor grade extension cords outside of the home.
- Make sure your hands are dry before touching switches or electrical appliances.
- Before cleaning areas like the kitchen, bathroom or laundry, make sure all appliances are switched off.
One of the best ways to reduce risk of death from electric shock in your home is to install a safety switch, also called a residual current device (RCD). However, never try to do any electrical work on your own. If you think there are hazards present in your home, contact a licensed electrician to help you resolve them.
You can view our comprehensive electrical safety tips here, where you can find advice for keeping safe in the home and office, keeping children safe, and keeping safe during a storm. If you need an electrician to come to your home or work, you can call 1800 PLATINUM (1800 752 846) to book in one of our qualified electricians – and remember, all of our workmanship comes with a lifetime warranty* for that added peace of mind!