Electricity safety

We all use electricity and electrical equipment on a regular basis, which is why it’s important to use electricity safely. 

Plugs and sockets 

We all have plugs and sockets in our home, but did you know overloaded sockets can cause fires? Be socket safe by remembering to: 

  • turn electrical items off at the plug when you’re not using them 
  • only use one plug per socket  
  • make sure all plugs are correctly wired and the wires securely contained within the plug. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask a qualified electrician.  
  • If you use chargers for phones, gadgets and e-cigarettes, it’s important to use them safely – see our Using chargers section below 

Using chargers

If you use a charger it’s important to make sure you use it safely to avoid the risk of it overheating, or of fire.  

Please remember to:  

  • always make sure you use the original charger that came with your device or tool 
  • if you have to use an alternative charger, ensure it has come from a reputable supplier 
  • never leave items that are charging unsupervised, or overnight 
  • always charge items in a well-ventilated area and left uncovered to prevent risk of overheating. If you have children or teenagers remember to make sure they do not charge their phones in beds or under pillows. 
  • disconnect devices from the charger as soon as they are charged  
  • avoid leaving items on charge until you need to use them 
  • before using chargers check them for damage, including the lead and plug.  If a charger is damaged, do not use it.  

Find cables and plugs confusing? help take the confusion out of which plug is for which appliance by labelling plugs with the name of the appliance they connect to - for example ‘TV’ or ‘toaster’. This can be especially helpful for members of the family who may get easily confused. 

Remember: plugs or sockets that feel warm, scorch marks, fuses that often blow or flickering lights, may all be indicators of loose or damaged wiring or other electrical problems and should be checked by a qualified electrician.  

Extension leads 

If you use an extension lead in your home (such as a 4-way bar adaptor) to increase the number of appliances you can plug into a wall socket, do remember: 

  • although there is space to plug in four appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so. We would encourage you to remove the adaptor and plug in the appliance you wish to use if you can. 
  • different electrical appliances use different amounts of power. 
  • to avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, never plug appliances into an extension lead or socket that together use more than 13 amps or 3,000 watts of energy 
  • never plug one adaptor into another. This is because adaptors are not designed to be plugged into each other to extend their reach across a room. Sometimes called ‘daisy-chaining’, it creates an increased fire risk, because the electrical current passing through the extension leads will exceed 13 amps! 

Use our handy calculator below to plug in some typical household appliances and see the effect on the load, with useful tips on how to avoid overloading your sockets. 

Socket overload calculator

The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First.

For more safety information visit https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Electrical cables 

  • if any of your electrical equipment has frayed or damaged cables, please have them replaced by a qualified electrician. 
  • avoid putting electrical appliance cables under carpets, mats or rugs - walking over them wears the protective cable covering until bare wires are exposed, potentially causing a fire. 
  • avoid using reel-type extension leads indoors. If you do, unwind the cable to its full length and leave it loosely coiled with plenty of air around it. If left fully wound, the cable may overheat and catch fire. 
  • keep electrical appliances away from water, for example do not place a vase of flowers on top of a television, or use an electric fire in a bathroom. 
  • switch off as many electrical appliances as possible at night. 
  • in the kitchen, avoid trailing cables such as a kettle cable hanging over the side of the counter. 

Electric blankets 

If you use an electric blanket remember to: 

  • check your electric blanket for wear and tear and if it is worn please replace as soon as possible 
  • make sure the blanket has safety features including automatic switch-off at a certain temperature or after a time limit 
  • if a person suffers from incontinence, remove electric blankets from beds and do not use 
  • never use a hot water bottle when using an electric blanket 

Use hair straighteners? 

Remember hair straighteners can stay hot for a long time, so please make sure they are not left on bedding or carpets 

Electrical ‘white goods’ 

‘White goods’ is a general term for large household appliances such as fridge freezers, washing machines and dishwashers, many of which are used in kitchens. 

To learn more about using these appliances safely, registering them and checking for manufacturers recalls, please see our Kitchen safety page. If you are eligible for a Kent Fire and Rescue Service free Safe and Well visit our friendly team will be able to help.  

When using white goods: 

  • make sure washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers are not used overnight, or left operating unattended 
  • remember tumble dryer lint filters must be cleaned weekly and vacuumed out monthly, to reduce the risk of fire