Electrical safety

General precautions

  • Switch off and unplug all electrical equipment when not in use – other than things that are designed to be left on, like freezers and fridges.
  • Only use electrical charging devices for the purpose they were intended and avoid purchasing counterfeit, cheap charging devices for electrical items.
  • Electricity can be complex. Consult a qualified electrician unless you know exactly what you are doing.
  • Check you are not overloading plug sockets
  • Keep electrical fuses, wiring and sockets well maintained

Fuses

Electrical circuits rely upon the correct use of circuit-breakers, called fuses, to cut the power to the appliance in the event that something goes wrong. This is because when an electrical appliance goes wrong, it can heat up more than it normally would, which has the potential to start a fire.

All electrical appliance manuals should advise you on the correct type of fuse to use, and you should never disregard these instructions unless you understand exactly what you are doing. If in doubt consult a qualified electrician.

  • Always use a three-pin plug which conforms to BS 1363 and carries the kite mark
  • Always use fuses that are correct for the appliance and conform to BS 1362

Adaptors

So-called 'multi-way adaptors' are devices that allow you to plug in more than one appliance per socket on your wall. These should not be used unless you know exactly what you are doing: You need to know the power which each attached appliance draws and that each adaptor and socket in the chain will cope with the loads placed on them. This can be complex and if you are in any doubt you should consult a qualified electrician.

  • Overloading a socket by using several adapters, or too many high-power appliances, can cause overheating and fire
  • Remember that 'one appliance, one socket' is the safest practice

Trailing leads and extension cables

Electrical cables get naturally warm. When using an extension cable, ensure that it is pulled out fully from any containing drum so that heat cannot build up within the wires. Trailing leads should contain the correct fuse and conform to BS 1363/A.

Are you overloading your electrical sockets?

Some appliances, such as lamps, televisions, computers, fridges and freezers generally require a 3 amp fuse. However washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves, kettles, toasters and irons usually require 13 amp fuses. Check out our Electrical Socket Calculator to see if you're overloading electrical sockets at home.

Wiring

Most electrical faults arising from overheating can be detected by regular inspection of wires, plugs and sockets. If any of these are hot to the touch or appear to be burnt, there is a problem that needs to be rectified before something catches fire. A fuse that keeps 'blowing' is a sign that there is a fault with the wiring or the appliance and this should be investigated by a qualified electrician. Flickering lights can also indicate a problem.

  • Don't remove plugs by pulling the flex, as this can break the wires - pull on the housing of the plug instead
  • Ensure that the outer sheath of the flex is fastened under the clamp within the plug
  • Flex should not be run under carpets as any damage to it will go unseen.

Dealing with an electrical fire

If there is an electrical fire, pull the plug out, or switch off the power at the fuse box if it is safe to do so. Sometimes this can stop the fire immediately.

Never use water on an electrical fire, and don't take any risks with your safety - get out, stay out and call 999.

Registering your appliance

Registering your appliance is highly recommended by the fire service.

In a very small number of cases, manufacturers may identify problems with an appliance, and then contact you to get the fault corrected as quickly as possible.

It can be very difficult for companies to trace customers, so it's important that you take the time to register your appliance to let manufacturers know that you own the appliance.

Register your appliance today here.

Grenfell Tower

Following the Metropolitan Police Service’s statement that a Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer has been identified as the initial source of the Grenfell Tower fire, the government has ordered an immediate examination of the unit by technical experts to establish the cause of the incident.

This product, which was manufactured between 2006 and 2009, has not been subject to product recalls and this testing will establish whether any further action is required.

Consumers who believe they may own a Hotpoint fridge freezer model number FF175BP (white) or FF175BG (grey) should call Whirlpool Corporation’s freephone hotline on 0800 316 3826 or click here to register their details for further updates