Everybody knows that electricity is dangerous. What we don’t know is that electricity is now the major cause of accidental fires in homes in the UK. Statistics from the Government has shown that electricity causes more than 20,000 fires a year! That is almost half of all fires in the UK. Every year, more than 70 people are killed and around 350,000 are seriously injured – all due to an electrical accident at home.

We are so used to using electrical appliances, toasters, kettles, irons etc. And because we are so used to using these electrical appliances, we don’t even think about what harm they could do if anything were to happen, for example, leaving a pair of hair straighteners on accidentally. When you think about it, the risk of electrical accidents happening are a lot higher than 15 years ago.

It is so important that you get someone who is qualified and competent to carry out any electrical installation work. It is easy to make an electric circuit work, but it is a lot harder to make the circuit work safely.

If you look around your property, your home should have some if not all of the following:

Residual Current Device (RCD)

This is a device that can save your life. It is designed to stop you getting a fatal electric shock if you were to touch something live, such as a bare wire.

Main Switch

The main switch is also known as the fuse box. This allows you to turn off the supply to your electrical installation. Some installations have more than one switch. For example, your home may be heated by electric storage heaters, so you probably will have a separate consumer unit for them. The fuse box should be easy to get to so you can turn everything off in an emergency.

Circuit-breakers

Newer homes are more likely to something called a circuit-breaker and this is located in the consumer unit. The circuit-breaker does exactly what it says; it switches off a circuit if there is a fault. When these circuit-breakers ‘trip’ then you simply flick the switch after you have found and got an electrician to rectify the problem (if it’s a complicated and big job).

Fuses

The older houses have re-wireable fuses which can automatically disconnect the circuit to prevent danger. When an overload current runs through the fuse wire, it melts when it becomes hot which causes the circuit to disconnect.

Old and faulty wiring is one of the biggest causes of electrical fires within the home. You can avoid this happening by simply having regular checks carried out. There are clear indications that can help you to tell the age of the electrical installations in your home.

Cables coated in Black rubber (gone by the 1960s);

Cables coated in lead or fabric (before the 1960s);

A fuse box with a wooden back, or a disorganised bunch of fuse boxes (before the 1960s);

Electricity does improve our lives but only when it used safely and correctly. Electrical accidents are most likely to happen when things have been misused or is damaged. Failure to correct the problem will more than likely have devastating effects and it never hurts to be safer than sorry. This may sound like common sense, but you will not believe how many people fail to follow basic guidelines and rules when it comes to electricity, so please be aware.