Electrical accidents in the home can pose a more significant risk to older or vulnerable people
Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is supporting Electrical Fire Safety Week (19-25th November) organised by the Electrical Safety Council.
The Council found that one million people over 75 live in homes that are not warm enough, are in a state of disrepair or do not have modern facilities.
These homes can be dangerous as they don’t meet basic electrical safety standards. Such as including life-saving devices such as a modern fusebox, circuit breakers and PVC wiring.
Sometimes a health condition such as dementia or Parkinson’s can increase the risk of an electrical accident, as these conditions cause reduced mobility and memory.
Simple checks if you’re worried about electrical safety
If you’re worried about your property, or concerned about an elderly neighbour or relative, here are some simple things that you can do to help them to stay safe:
- Check the fusebox
Your fusebox controls the electrics in your home which is why it’s important that you check it’s working safely. All fuseboxes should have a main switch and fuses and/or circuit breakers. It should NOT have a wooden back, cast iron switches or what looks like a mix of different fuseboxes. If your circuit-breakers trip or fuses regularly blow, then it’s worth getting them checked by a registered electrician
- Check for RCDs
An RCD (Residual Current Device) is a life-saving device that cuts out power if there’s an accident and can prevent you from receiving a fatal electric shock. To check whether you have an RCD press the ‘Test’ or ‘T’ button. If you do have one then pressing it will switch off the power to the areas of the home that it protects. If you don’t have an RCD in your fusebox or it’s not working then you should use plug-in RCDs for all the sockets in your home
- Plugs and sockets
If your electrics are over 50 years old they’ll need checking and updating. Electrics can also be become damaged or faulty which will require professional attention. Things to look out for – round pin sockets, braided flex hanging from ceiling light fittings, sockets mounted in skirting boards, damaged plugs and sockets, visible burn marks, crackling sounds or excessive heat being emitted.
- Light fittings
Any signs of overheating such as curled labels, discolouration or scorching should be a warning sign. If you see any signs of cracking or burn marks around the light fittings stop using them immediately and get them checked by a registered electrician
Cables should be in good condition with no signs of damage, cracking or splitting and should be enclosed in a PVC sheath. Cuts, damage or signs of excessive wear and tear mean that the lead or plug might need replacing. Try to avoid trailing cables across the floor or under carpets and rugs as this can be a trip hazard
- Check the smoke alarm
Every property should have a working smoke alarm and batteries should be changed every year. You can test the smoke alarm by pressing the ‘Test’ button. If there’s no smoke alarm then contact your local Fire and Rescue Service
- Sign up to the priority register
Older people should ask their energy provider to add them to the priority service register which means that they are eligible for a tailored billing service, free meter readings, and alternative facilities for cooking and heating if something goes wrong
- Undertake a full electric check
If the property is over 50 years old and its electrics haven’t been checked in the last ten years, ask a registered electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report, or EICR, (previously known as a Periodic Inspection Report, or PIR)