Electrical Safety

Staying safe is easier when you understand the risks and how you can avoid them. These tips will help you take care of yourself, your family and your home when you’re using electricity.

If you’re digging around your property, to make sure you don’t hit underground cables or pipes, contact Before you Dig on 1100 for help.

Always call 000 immediately if there is a risk to life or property. Learn more about what to do in emergency situations.

If your power goes out, your distributor is usually the best person to call. They own and operate the poles and wires that deliver power you your home or business.

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Electrical emergencies

Electric shocks

Always call 000 straight away to get medical assistance if someone is experiencing an electrical shock.

  • If there is no danger of you also being electrocuted, switch off the power and pull out the plug.
  • If you can’t turn the appliance off safely, use something that won’t conduct electricity to free the shock victim from the electric current. This could be heavy duty insulating gloves; something made of rubber, dry cloth or cured dry wood.
  • Protect yourself and anyone else from the possibility of further shocks.
  • Don’t touch the victim’s skin until they’re completely free of the electrical current.
  • If you’re trained in CPR, you should attempt to resuscitate the shock victim as soon as they’re no longer in contact with the electrical current.
  • Never attempt to rescue a person where a high voltage electrical current is involved. Reach straight for the phone and call 000.

Electrical fires

Fire blankets and extinguishers are a great way to smother small fires, but you should always call 000 in the case of an emergency.

  • Fire blankets and extinguishers are a great way to smother small fires, but you should always call 000 in the case of an emergency.
  • If it’s safe to do so, turn off and unplug electrical appliances that may be affected.
  • If you decide to invest in an extinguisher, make sure you choose one that’s right for your intended use (e.g. cooking oil and fat fires).
  • Never throw water on an electrical fire as you could electrocute yourself.
  • If your clothing catches fire, be sure to “stop, drop and roll” until the flames have been extinguished entirely.

Stay safe with electrical appliances

1

Replace or repair damaged electrical appliances, that may have frayed cords, cracked housing, or broken plugs.

2

Turn off power points and appliances when you’re not using them, or if you’re leaving home.

3

Keep exhaust fans clean and free of lint and dust.

4

Make sure your appliances have adequate breathing space so they don’t overheat.

5

Be careful when you’re using electrical appliances or extension cords near wet areas like sinks, bathrooms and swimming pools.

6

Always switch the toaster off before trying to remove any food caught in the unit, and make sure you regularly remove breadcrumbs.

7

Stay safe around power lines by keeping ladders, boat masts and poles clear of overhead wires. Also keep plants and trees trimmed and away from power lines.

8

Make sure you know where your switchboard is located. Keep access to it clear and label the switches, circuit breakers and fuses so you always know what’s what.


Simple safety equipment could save you

It pays to play it safe.

1

Safety switches

If your house was built before 1992, you might need to invest in safety switches for your power and lighting circuits. They’re designed to protect against electric shocks by switching off the power supply within a fraction of a second when an electrical fault occurs.

2

Smoke alarms

Every home should have smoke alarms installed.

You should test your smoke alarms weekly, by pushing the test button with the end of a broom. And don’t forget to change your smoke alarm battery every year.

3

Safety plugs

If you have children, pick up some safety plugs or power point covers. They’re easy to use, don’t cost a lot, and insert directly into empty power sockets so your little ones can’t push things they shouldn’t into your power sockets.

4

Surge protectors

Surge protectors help prevent damage to appliances in your home that are caused by power surges.

5

Fire blankets and extinguishers

You can buy approved fire blankets and portable extinguishers from most hardware stores. Just make sure you choose an extinguisher that’s right for your intended use (e.g. cooking oil and fat fires). And don’t forget to read the instructions so you know how to use them in an emergency.


Electrical safety during a storm

If your power is lost during a storm, it’s a good idea to turn off and unplug your electrical appliances. Don’t use or attempt to repair electrical appliances that may have been damaged by rain or flooding. Have them checked with a qualified electrician first.