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11 important electrical safety tips

19th Feb '24 • By Shreya Kulkarni

Electricity isn't something to take lightly – it's one of the potential dangers that you might forget is lurking in your home. Tackling any electrical work without a solid understanding can lead to serious injuries or worse.

Important Electrical Safety Tips

Even seemingly simple tasks, like changing a fuse or swapping out a light bulb, can pose a danger to yourself or your family. Safety should be your top priority, so here are some of the most important electrical tips to keep in mind for that extra layer of precaution.

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1. When in doubt

Mains electricity runs through your home at all times and dealing with any wiring or fixture runs a serious risk of electrocution. The first thing you should do before commencing any electrical work is to switch off the mains. This stops the flow of electricity and ensures your safety, being one of the most important electrical tips to keep your home safe.

2. Make sure your hands are clean and dry

Your hands must always be clean and dry when dealing with electricity. Wet hands can radically increase the chances of an accident as it acts as a conductor. Therefore, make sure your hands are thoroughly washed and dried before you start dealing with any form of cabling. Water and electricity in particular do not mix, so avoid handling cables with damp or dusty hands.

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3. Wear protective gear

PPE (personal protective equipment) should always be worn. Protective clothing removes the buildup of sweat which can be dangerous if coming into contact with a live source of electricity. Even protective eyewear and non-conductive footwear with rubber soles should also be considered.

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4. Buddy up

Never do an electrical job alone; always have someone on hand should there be a mishap. Have your phone at hand, if you need to call an ambulance. Even electricians try to follow the ‘work in pairs’ rule.

5. Check your equipment

Never use equipment that has frayed cords, damaged insulation or broken plugs. Make sure your tools are insulated. 

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6. Back up generators 

Remember to turn off your appliances when not in use. If you need to keep certain appliances on, use generators. In big factories and companies or areas prone to floods and power outages, it's essential to have generators for the backups. 

7. Know the electrical requirements

All appliances in your home have their own individual electrical requirements; make a note of the types of circuit breakers and fuses you have. Use this list as a guide to ensure you replace it with the appropriate items. Do pay attention to what an appliance is telling you; if it continually trips, blows fuses or gives off electric shocks then it needs immediate attention and possible replacement.

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8. Install ground fault circuit interrupters

Any time you have water and electrical circuits in close proximity, then a GFCI should be installed in a safe place. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters are integrated into the power outlet themselves, which monitor the amount of power flowing into the device or appliance plugged into it. If you drop your hair dryer into the sink, it identifies the interruption in current and cuts the power for your safety. Keep this in mind when planning your new power outlet installation, as well as the common places people forget to install power points.

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9. Install safety outlets and safety covers

Once a job is complete, installing safety outlets and safety covers will help avoid any electrical accidents in the future.

10. Prioritise Regular Electrical Inspections

Regular electrical inspections are a key aspect of maintaining a safe home environment. Consider the following tips for ensuring the ongoing safety of your electrical system:

  • Schedule periodic inspections by a qualified electrician to identify potential issues before they become serious problems.
  • Focus on the overall condition of wiring, outlets, and appliances during inspections, addressing any signs of wear, overheating, or damage promptly.
  • For older homes, consider more frequent inspections, as aging electrical systems may require closer attention.
  • Don't wait for visible problems; proactively assess your electrical system to prevent electrical failures and minimize the risk of accidents.

By prioritising regular electrical inspections, you contribute to a safer living environment and reduce the likelihood of unexpected electrical issues.

11. Call a professional electrician

If you are at all unsure of what you’re doing, it's essential to call in a qualified electrician. Electricity isn’t something you can figure out as you go – the risks of a simple mistake are far too great to be left up to chance. What’s more, the cost of making an electrical mistake could be greater than the cost of getting your electrical problem fixed in the first place.

When you do call a professional, make sure they are accredited and qualified to work with electricity. There is no price for loss of life; even though the cost of an electrician at times may be prohibitive, it is still a sound investment for the future.  Use resources like Service.com.au to find a tradesman that does have the correct qualifications, references and licences. Word of mouth is also a great way of finding an electrician who gets repeat business. This is always a great indicator of an electrician who takes great care in their work, business and image. 

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