Winter Electrical Safety Tips
It’s cold, the tracksuits are out and the heat is turned up – winter is here! And while it is nice to stay snug and warm at this time of year, it also heralds the season where there is an increased risk of house fires. This increased risk is due to a higher use of electrical appliances such as heaters and electric blankets.
The start of any season is a good time to do a bit of a general safety check around the home. Below are a few things to check to be electrically safe. It takes no time at all and will ensure you and your family stay safe during the colder months.
Electric blankets that have not been properly stored or maintained can cause fires. So, before using an electric blanket that has been in storage, first inspect it for any noticeable damage – scorch marks, frayed/damaged cords or lumps due to folding.
Next, test it by laying the blanket flat on a bed and switching it on. While the blanket is warming up, check for any hot spots. If there are hot spots, this is an indication of damage to the heating element and the blanket should be disposed of.
Also, if the blanket is older it may not be up to current Australian Standards and it is probably worth considering a replacement.
Lastly, to store electric blankets safely it is best to roll them. Folding will crease and damage the heating element. Also, don’t store them under heavy objects as this can also damage the wires.
Don’t go to bed with an electric blanket switched on – always turn them off at the power point before getting into bed.
Heaters can also be a cause of household fires particularly if they are not used correctly. As for other appliances, if the heater is coming out of storage, check it carefully for any damage or frayed cords. If necessary, give it a good dust off before using.
The following are a few other considerations when using heaters. Although they may seem obvious, it is worth reviewing and implementing these safe practices:
- Keep electric heaters at least 1 metre from all objects, in particular anything that is combustible such as bedding, furniture, clothing (don’t sit too close) and curtains.
- Supervision of children around heaters is critical. Never leave them unattended and teach them early about the dangers. Make a rule that they shouldn’t play, sit or stand too close to any heater.
- Turn off heaters when you leave a room or the house, even if you think you will be returning soon.
General Electrical Safety
Check all appliances to ensure they are not damaged before switching them on, particularly if they have been packed away in storage for some time. If there is any visible damage, cords are frayed or if they are getting a bit old, it is best to either throw them away or have the item inspected by a licensed electrician before use.
Test all smoke alarms throughout the house and if there aren’t enough, get a few more installed.
Last but not least, ensure your safety switch is working. Test the switch by follow the instructions at the bottom of this page.
Stay safe and warm this winter!
I approached PRO Electricians after a letter drop in my neighbourhood. I’d been trying to get some lights I’d bought at Christmas installed but no-one was returning my calls. Steve was prompt, knowledgeable, and on time. I’d be more than happy to use him again for more electrical work.
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