It's easy to use electric appliances safely too.
Look for the BEAB-approved label when you buy electrical household appliances. This is the mark of the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board. It means the appliance you choose has been type tested and approved for safety by an independent approval body. Don't be tempted to buy appliances secondhand; they may not be safe.
Keep appliances and flexes in good order. Have any appliance faults remedied straight away by a qualified technician. Never let a flex touch hot parts of a fire, toaster, cooker, iron, etc. Replace immediately if damaged.
Radiant fires. Every radiant fire should have a permanent safety guard. Where there are children, an adequate fireguard must also be fixed in front of it.
Radiant fires in small rooms must be fixed high on the wall, at least three feet from any furniture, curtains or doors (open or closed). Always switch off at the wall socket, unplug and allow to cool before cleaning.
Convectors. Never drape anything over a convector or storage heater. Airing cupboard heaters must be shielded against falling clothes, and should have an overheat cut-out and indicator lamp.
Storage heaters. Follow maker's instructions for positioning against walls. Keep heaters at least three inches clear of curtains and furniture. Never obstruct air grilles. Guards are also available for use with storage heaters.
Fan heaters. Never cover or obstruct air grilles.
Time switches. Take special care with time-switched heaters. Make sure they are well clear of curtains, furnishings, etc. at all times. Time switches and delay controls must never be fitted to radiant fires.
Buy light fittings from a reputable dealer and take advice about safety. Switch off before changing light bulbs and let them cool before removing. Do not exceed the maximum wattage recommended on shades and fittings to avoid the risk of fire.
Never handle plugs, switches or any electric appliance with wet hands. Switch off and unplug all appliances before cleaning and make sure they are thoroughly dry before use. Do not allow flexes to overhang work surfaces.
Cooker. Keep children away from cookers; surfaces can be hot. Turn pans so that handles are out of reach, and switch off the cooker at the wall panel when not in use. Do not line any part of the cooker with kitchen foil.
Take special care with cooking oil (this applies to all forms of cooker - not just electric ones). Use a pan which completely covers the boiling ring, and is at least five inches deep. Never fill more than one third full with oil, or two thirds full with added food. Use a frying basket, lowering it slowly into the oil. Never cover pan with lid when heating or frying. Drain food over the pan. Never leave unattended. For frying it is preferable to use purpose-made deep fryers.
Kettle. Switch off and unplug at the wall socket, and remove flex, before filling or pouring. Fill with enough water to cover the element completely. Keep the cord out of reach of young children. Never allow the flex to hang over the edge of the work surface.
Toaster. If bread is stuck inside, switch off and unplug. Allow to cool, then remove the bread with care, avoiding heating elements. Never poke about with a metal implement.
Television and hi-fi. Switch off when not in use and remove the mains plug from the supply socket. Never attempt repairs - call in a specialist engineer.
Portable fan. Fan blades should have a safety guard. Keep the flex clear of moving parts.
Laundry and cleaning
Iron. Make sure the iron is dry before use. Unplug steam irons before filling. Fit a flex holder to the ironing board. Never coil flex around a hot iron when storing away.
Vacuum cleaner. Never pull along by the flex. Replace the flex at the first sign of wear.
Electric blankets. See Electricity and you - electric blankets for detailed information but note the following points: Buy only a BEAB-approved blanket. All new blankets with BEAB approval have overheat protection for extra safety. Follow maker's instructions carefully. Switch off the preheating under blanket type before getting into bed. Never use a blanket folded or creased. Never switch it on if damp. Never stick pins into the fabric. Have electric blankets inspected regularly.
Tea maker. Keep the flex as short as possible, and make sure water doesn't drip on it.
Electricity can be a luxurious boon in your bathroom, but special precautions are essential. Socket outlets are not permitted in bathrooms. Never use portable appliances, even if plugged in outside. The only exception is a shaver, if used with a special permanent shaver socket with isolating transformer, complying with British Standard 3535.
Fixed appliances. Radiant heaters, towel rails and mirror lights must be fixed firmly to the wall, never above the bath or near a shower, with permanent wiring (no sockets) and pull-cord switches. Radiant heaters must be well out of reach, with metal frames securely earthed and bonded to the remaining metalwork in the bathroom. Have all work carried out by a qualified electrician.
Garage, workshop, garden
When buying electric gardening tools and appliances always:
Look for the SEAS label or kitemark. It means the appliance you choose has been type tested and approved for safety. Make sure all the electrical appliances and equipment you buy are approved for safety.
Wiring. Extension leads should either be purchased ready assembled or be made up by a qualified electrician. Always use a single continuous flex, without joins. Never work with wet or worn flex. Never run power tools from a lamp socket; have a proper earthed (3-pin) socket fitted by a qualified electrician. Sockets used to supply equipment out-of-doors, e.g. lawnmowers or hedge-cutters, should be protected by a residual current device (RCD) having a tripping current of 30milliamps or less. Outdoor sockets must additionally be under cover, or special splashproof or weatherproof units.
Produced in association with Northern Ireland Electricity - www.nie.co.uk