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Without electricity, modern life comes to a grinding halt. When the power goes out, you can’t light, heat or cool your house properly. Many people can’t even prepare a simple meal without power. With lines of communication down and even the TV dead, everything seems in meltdown. So much of our day-to-day is dependent upon electricity, and when the power fades it can bring about a huge headache. There’s a big difference between a storm tripping a breaker and a potentially dangerous electrical accident at home, though. You can’t completely avoid the storm, but there are plenty of sensible precautions you can take to prevent electrical accidents. Today, we’ve got 7 simple tips showing you how to avoid electrical accidents at home.

1) Never Overload Your Sockets

Perhaps the easiest rule to follow, and unfortunately one of the most frequently ignored, is that you should never load your sockets with too many appliances. Using extension cords is fine, provided you use one with protective safety features. Some extension cables have a special fuse that will shut off the power if the fuse becomes overloaded. Also, pay attention to how the cord is rated. If it’s only rated for indoor use, don’t use it outside because it won’t cope with exposure to the elements. If you find yourself continually using extension cords in a specific part of your home, consider hiring a licensed electrician to install additional sockets in this spot instead. When plugging  things into your sockets, use only one plug per socket. We understand that many homes simply don’t have enough outlets and that dual plugs can extend the usefulness of specific outlets. However, you can’t safely attach several dual plugs in each socket and then run extension cords from these. Doing this is just asking for trouble.

2) Safety Of Your Sockets

Being aware of socket safety is another important rule of thumb when it comes to electrical hazards. To avoid any electrical accidents at home, there are a few things you can do differently. When you are tempted to jerk the cord out of the wall instead of walking over and unplugging it gently, think again. This jerking motion can be dangerous and is highly likely to cause damage to the outlet, the plug or the appliance the cord is attached to. If you’ve got small children at home, you need to be especially aware of your sockets and if they pose any threats. Children are curious, and many a child has come to grief when exploring sockets. To prevent your youngster from being burned, zapped, or electrocuted, you need to purchase safety caps for your outlets and place them on any that are not in use.

3) Maintain Your Sockets

Just like everything else in your home, your electrical sockets need proper maintenance. Set a schedule to regularly examine the appearance of your electrical areas. Look at the sockets, the plugs and the cords to check for any defects. In your cords, you do not want to see any exposed wiring and if there are any twists or kinks you need to undo them sharpish. Pay attention to any other flaws you notice. Check for plugs that are bent out of shape and fix them. If there are any indications of burning on the plugs, you need to call a licensed electrician. As for your sockets, check to make sure they are not loose from the wall and that there are no burn marks around them at all. If either of these issues is a problem in your home, call a licensedelectrician to fix it properly.

4) Exposed Wires

As mentioned above, you want to be sure there are no visible wires in your appliance cords. If you can see through the coating down to bare electrical wires in places, this is highly dangerous and needs to be handled immediately. You should also avoid hiding cords. Yes, the cord might be unsightly running across the rug and it might be a trip hazard but this is a whole lot better than a house fire. When cords are hidden under rugs or behind furniture, you can’t see them or the condition they’re in. You won’t be able to tell if they’ve overheated or frayed so make sure they remain in plain sight. If you plug something into an outlet, do not push furniture in front of this spot. Doing so could cause the cord to bend. A cord that remains bent could easily start arcing electricity. With furniture in close proximity, this could quickly start a dangerous fire. You must do all you can to maintain visible wires and cords in your home, even if they look like an eyesore. Electricity creates heat and cords need to be able to stay as cool as possible. When cords are covered up, they are unable to properly cool down which can result in overheating leading to electrical accidents at home.

5) Keep Liquids Away

Everyone knows liquids and electricity do not mix well together. Not only can the water suck any life from your electrical appliances if they come into contact, but the shock of electricity and water can give you quite a zap, perhaps even fatally. You must be extremely vigilant when it comes to electricity and liquids. You should do everything you can to keep electrical cords, plugs and appliances away from any liquids. There are many electrical appliances habitually used in rooms prone to getting wet, like the kitchen or the bathroom. When using your electric hair tools or small cooking appliances, you need to make certain you keep them away from liquids. Be sure you’ve got dry hands when you’re handling these tools and appliances as well. If your cord or plug are wet, allow them to fully dry before using the appliance attached to them. Make sure you’re not standing in water while drying your hair or filling your electric kettle, and do not use anything electronic while you’re in the tub or shower. If your plugged-in appliance does somehow get wet, do not try to unplug it from the socket. Instead, go to the electrical box in your home and find what controls the power in the room where the wet plug is and shut it off.

6) Power Off Your Appliances

Another thing you can do to prevent electrical accidents at home is to turn all appliances off when they are not being used. When your appliances and cords are plugged in, electricity is flowing through them. It can be easy to get zapped by these things if they are not turned off. When you’re finished up with any electrical appliance, get into the habit of unplugging it or turn off the appliances at the switch. Once your water is boiled, unplug the kettle. When your mobile phone is charged and no longer needs to be plugged in, unplug it. Turning off appliances is especially important when it comes to anything that generates heat. You don’t necessarily need to heat vacant rooms so when you leave a room, unplug or turn off the heater.

When you’re getting ready to leave home for the day, go through and make sure your appliances are all unplugged and your lights are turned off at the switch. Doing this can not only help to prevent electrical accidents, it can also help to lower your electricity bill since fewer things will be drawing power when not in use.

7) Keep Wires Cool

Electricity generates heat, and this heat causes wires and cords to become hot. Over time this can weaken the protective layer that holds in the wiring and results in defects to the cords. It is vital that cords are allowed to remain as cool as possible so this doesn’t happen in a hurry. Wire heat can swiftly become problematic. Also, many electrical appliances are in use in the kitchen, and many of the most popular appliances are pretty small. Cords can easily get strung about and before you realize what’s happening there might be a cord melting where you were just making your morning muesli. To avoid this, pay attention to the position of cords and wires, and make sure they are not being exposed unnecessarily to heat. Also, when you are finished up with any appliance, allow it ample time to cool off before placing it back into its storage cupboard.

This is especially important when it comes to appliances like toasters that produce heat themselves. Not only will the wire heat cause problems, but hot appliances in closed-off cupboards can quickly become a fire hazard.

Final Word

There are many dangers lurking when it comes to electricity, but there are also plenty of steps you can take to help prevent electrical accidents at home. Think about these simple tips and you can remove potential hazards and make your home safer. If you have any questions or you’re in any way concerned electrics in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the chaos of an emergency situation, it can be extremely difficult to know which way to go, and this is especially true if you are in an unfamiliar place. Having emergency exit lighting is important for helping all building occupants find their way to the exit and out to safety. These types of electrical lighting aren’t simply a thoughtful aid; they can quite literally save lives. Emergency and exit lighting is often a requirement mandated by the Building Code of Australia, US Building Codes, and many other regulatory bodies. Sometimes, laws and regulations can be difficult to understand comprehensively. If you own or manage a building, how can you know if your building requires emergency and exit lighting under the law? And if it is required for your building, how can you be sure what types of lighting are compliant with the law? There’s plenty of detailed information given by the Building Code of Australia, but here we’ve tried to condense and simplify all of that information so you can make better use of it. Below you’ll find a list of criteria regarding emergency and exit lighting, and this information will help you stay abreast of the law as well while also helping you keep your guests safe.

Does Your Office Need Emergency and Exit Lighting?

This is a bit of a loaded question since the answer is dependent on many variables like building size, amount of natural light, and even how the building is used. Since we cannot see the space you are referring to, we’ll outline a series of general requirements so that you should be able to easily determine the answer for yourself with your knowledge of the space.

Floor Area

If the floor area of the space in question is less than 300m 2 , you might not need emergency and exit lighting, but even this is dependent upon the class of building in question. Keep reading for more on that. However, if the floor space of the building in question is greater than 300m 2 , emergency and exit lighting is always required by law, and lighting must be properly installed. In a large area it can be even tougher to pick your way to safety should an emergency arise, so having illuminated emergency exit signs is a great help.

Natural Light

The Building Code of Australia requires that if the exit from any room does not open into a space with adequate natural light, there must be emergency and exit lighting installed within that room. How do you determine what adequate natural light is, though? Well, if the building is lined with glass, chances are there’s plenty of natural light streaming in allowing you to see your way out in an emergency. However, if the door to the room you are in opens into a hallway or into another room not exposed to natural light, there won’t be enough natural light and you’ll need emergency and exit lighting instead. Building residents need to be able to find their way out even if it’s dark or the power is down. This means that if there’s inadequate natural light for this purpose, you need to get some electrical lighting installed.

Building Class

Do you know what class your building is? This classification is a part of the building code, and should be indicated on various paperwork. If you’re the manager or owner, you should be aware of this classification. If you’re unsure, you need to find out. The building class also influences whether or not your building needs to have emergency and exit lighting. If the building in question is a Class 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9, each storey of the building must have emergency and exit lighting properly installed to comply with the BCA’s requirements. Any room with a floor area exceeding 100m 2 which doesn’t open onto a space where emergency and exit lighting has already been installed must have this lighting installed within the room itself. Also, any room on any floors that measures more than 300m 2 must also have emergency and exit lighting installed. Any closed-off offices or other enclosed areas must also have emergency and exit lighting installed.

Passageways and Stairways

Any hallway, corridor or passageway more then 6m from the entrance doorway must have emergency lighting installed. In your building, every fire-isolated passageway, fire- isolated ramp and fire-isolated stairway must also have emergency and exit lighting installed. Non fire-isolated stairways are sometimes also required to have electrical lighting. External balconies that lead to fire-isolated stairways, ramps or passageways must have emergency lighting, and external stairways used in place of fire-isolated stairways must also have this electrical lighting installed. For safety’s sake, all stairwells and passageways should have safety lighting installed. This lighting should not only clearly indicate where the exits are located but should also illuminate the way through the building, and stairs and ramps clearly visible.

Public Access

If your building allows public access to any room, office or other space within the building, there are laws regarding emergency and exit signs for this as well. If your building is a class 6 or 9b building, there must be electric lighting for emergencies and exits if there’s a distance of more than 20m from the nearest doorway to an exit to a stairway, ramp, open space or passageway. If your building is a class 9a health care facility, there must be emergency and exit lighting in every passageway leading to a treatment area, in every room with more than 120m 2 of floor area, and in every patient area.

Additional Requirements

Building on the above requirements and laws, the Building Code of Australia has other guidelines regarding electrical lighting that must be met in order to comply with the law. All of the exit signs within your building must always be illuminated. Every single emergency exit needs to be marked plainly with an illuminated exit sign, and these signs should be visible wherever you are in the building. All emergency and exit signs need to remain illuminated if a blackout occurs. If you are not sure if your lights comply, be certain to hire a licensed electrician to inspect the lights for this purpose. You also need to make sure there’s nothing blocking the exits. In case of an emergency, you do not want people to be trapped inside the building because a pile of boxes is blocking the only way out of the room. There must be a clear path to all exits so all occupants can exit safely. If there’s any chance the exits could become blocked, you need to place signage reminding people that there needs to be no obstruction of the emergency exits.

Maintaining Your Emergency and Exit Lighting

Once you have the lighting installed and you meet the Building Code of Australia’s requirements regarding this type of lighting, you need to be diligent in maintaining your electrical lighting system to ensure it is functioning properly. If you manage or own a building, you need to take full responsibility for the safety of the people within the building, whether occupants or employees. If your emergency lighting is not working properly and an emergency does occur, it could be extremely dangerous for the people within the walls of your building. You should regularly check the condition of all emergency and exit lighting throughout your building. To be safe, schedule a maintenance check once or twice a year. Schedule an appointment with a licensed electrician to do the job. They can inspect the electric lighting to be sure it’s free of defects and is functioning properly. If any problems arise with the lighting system, you’ll already have an electrician familiar with it on hand to carry out servicing. Not only s regular maintenance good for keeping the system functional, most places require this as a standard. Businesses must keep records containing when servicing is carried out, who is doing the servicing, and a note of any problems found.

Other Considerations

Even if your building is small enough (less than 300m2 of floor area) or has enough natural light not to warrant emergency and exit lighting by law, you might still think about getting it installed anyway. It can give many of your patrons, customers, and guests peace of mind knowing where they can go should an emergency arise.

Final Word

Emergencies can happen quickly and with no warning. Should an emergency arise while the building is full of people, they need to be able to find their way safely out of the building. If there’s a fire and the lights have been knocked out and smoke is billowing, having permanently illuminated emergency and exit signs can save lives by directing people out of harm’s way. Any building owner or manager needs to have a well-considered safety plan for their building and the people within it. A vital part of this safety plan is the emergency and exit lighting, and this plan needs to meet the most recent standards that have been set forth by regulators. Get in touch if you need any of this clearing up. We’re always more than happy to help.