Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Are you working safely in your garden?

With a heatwave well under way (it was 21 degrees in London at 7am this morning!) many house holders are going to be out and about in their garden. Whether you have a balcony, a roof terrace or a fully fledged garden, there is always some element of electrical risk when out in the garden.

The mini Wimbledon tournament holders

With the Wimbledon season well under way, lots of us are celebrating Wimbledon in our own ways – whether that is being glued to the television or having the obligatory strawberries and cream. Yesterday we went to carry out an electrical safety inspection for a property in London, and the owner was happily outside in her garden watching TV.

Never be tempted to take your TV or radio outside into the garden, it would only take a few drops of rain...or next doors sprinkler system to make sparks fly quite literally! Not only would this cause permanent damage to your equipment, you could receive an electric shock or injury.

Water parties

In temperatures like these it is nice to drench yourself in water whether that be from water pistols or paddling pools, water needs to be kept outside. ;) Many people will go indoors dripping wet and use switches and sockets whilst still wet. Remember to dry yourself thoroughly before operating anything electrical. Water and electricity do not mix and you could receive an electric shock by accidentally using a switch with wet hands.

Making the garden look pretty

Getting the lawnmower or hedge trimmers out might seem like a simple enough job, however how many of you actually check for damage before plugging in and using them? Checking for water damage or the cable is essential especially for items kept in sheds that might be prone to leaking or pests. Water that has leaked onto electrical items kept in sheds or mice that have chewed through cable are a particular risk so always check before plugging in.

Investing in an RCD plug is also a good idea as this protects against equipment fault or even accidentally chopping through the cable. An RCD cuts the power in a fraction of a second and in gardens where an accident is more likely to occur, this makes sense. RCD protection has saved many lives in recent years.

As electricians in South East London we always recommend RCD protection in the home for ultimate electrical safety, however an RCD socket should be the minimum consideration when working outside as accidents so easily happen.

Make sure all connectors are designed for your equipment

When using connectors, always make sure they are compatible to the actual equipment you are using and that they are designed for use outdoors. Take extra care with extension leads and sockets. Extension leads should not be used at all outside and outdoor sockets should be in use. As a leading electrical contractor in London we have seen many examples of dangerous electrical practices in gardens. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and never take risks.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Are you a tenant in South East London?

If you are a tenant in the private rented sector, did you know you are more likely to be killed in your home as a result of fire or electric shock?

The electrical safety charity Electrical Safety First is campaigning for a law to be introduced for compulsory electrical testing to be carried out in all rented properties across the UK. Successful campaigning has led a law being made in Scotland that requires landlords to carry out electrical testing in rental homes every 5 years. There are talks in place to roll the law out to Northern Ireland where almost half of electrical fires (48%) are caused by appliances such as dishwashers, cookers and fridge freezers that are routinely provided by landlords.

No current electrical laws to protect tenants

As electricians in South East London, we have seen some very poor examples of privately rented accommodation, and the tenants are powerless to do anything about it. This is really quite a shameful situation as there are no laws requiring landlords to have electrical safety inspections carried out in rented homes. This potentially means that homes with outdated electrical systems and worse still dangerous electrics are bring rented out without any problem being identified.

By introducing a law like Scotland has done, lives will be saved and it will also clear up who is actually responsible for electrical safety in homes. Poor rental home standards is a UK wide problem with 29% of landlords and 40% of tenants not knowing who is responsible for the electrical safety of any appliances supplied with the tenancy. Furthermore, 1.7 million private tenants reported an electrical problem to their landlord which was either ignored or acted upon too slowly. Practices like this must stop and here at Fulcher Edwards, we strongly support the campaign by Electrical Safety First to make a law to make electrical safety checks in rented accommodation compulsory.

Who is responsible for electrical safety in rented homes?

Electrical safety in rented property is a two way responsibility. Regardless of whether electrical safety checks have been carried out or not, landlords are responsible for ensuring that:

  • electrical wiring and fittings like sockets and switches
  • appliances supplied with the tenancy

are electrically safe.

Tenants are responsible for ensuring that

  • Their own electrical appliances are electrically safe to use
  • They report any electrical concerns as soon as possible

this is important to prevent unnecessary electrical shock, injury, fire or worse.

Ways to make your rented property safer

The rules around electrical safety are vague which gives unscrupulous landlords an excuse to carry on renting out dangerous property.

It is recommended that landlords have an electrical safety inspection known as an EICR carried out at least once every 5 years or with every change of tenancy. If you are currently renting a property, it is worth asking your landlord if an EICR is available for the property. It is an important document and will give you peace of mind.

  • Ask to see an EICR report. If one is not available, how do you know your home electrics are safe?
  • Make sure you are not overloading extension leads. Many electrical fires occur because of extension leads.
  • Download the smartphone App from Electrical Safety First that will guide you through identifying how safe your home is.

If you have any concerns about your electrics, it is important that you contact your landlord as soon as you become aware. An electrical problem left could cost your life.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Are your electrical appliances putting lives in danger?

Last week it was Child Safety Week where there was major focus on keeping children and young adults away from sources of danger in and around the home. Topics included road safety, food plastics and staying safe in the home.

Todays blog is to reinforce an important message about the safe use of electrical appliances in the home. The safety advice is not solely for children, as any one of any age can become a victim of electrical shock or injury as a result of misusing or careless use of an electrical item.

How can an electrical appliance put a life in danger?

On the face of it, it seems like a ludicrous idea to suggest an electrical appliance could harm or even kill you. However, the frightening reality is that all electrical appliances present danger in some way especially if they are not being used in the right way.

As electricians in South East London, we carry out much of our work in homes in and around London, so we see the way people use appliances – especially small portables ones, on a daily basis. Often it is not the appliance itself that is dangerous, but the way in which it is being used that is the problem.

Small appliances that can cause the most damage are the main culprits – hair dryers, straighteners and irons – these appliances also have long cords on them making them a bigger tripping or grabbing hazard – get the picture?

Typical dangers we encounter at Fulcher Edwards

  • How many times do you put your hair straighteners away when you have finished with them?
People often leave hair straighteners on the side to cool down before putting them away. This is very dangerous particularly if you have young children in the house. Hair straighteners can cause burns up to 40 minutes after being switched off. Burns from hair straighteners has doubled in recent years with 1 in 10 child related burns being caused by them. Nearly half of all adults have suffered a burn from a heated hair appliance too. The best place to put hair straighteners after use is into a heat proof pouch where they can cool down safely.

  • We see countless pairs of hair straighteners left in childrens bedrooms with the cord stretched across the room.
It goes without saying that this is a tripping hazard and could cause a pair of hot straighteners to make contact with the skin – not nice. In addition, young children can mistake the bright colours of hair straighteners as toys and accidentally grab the hot plates. Even older children can be caught out by accidentally touching the hot plates whilst moving them.

  • The risk of accident increases at busier times of the day.

We all know what a rush it can be to get out of the door for work, or to get the kids to school on time. The process is repeated towards the end of the day, but this time, tiredness plays a major factor with adults not being so on the ball and being distracted by cooking dinner etc. It is between 3pm and 6pm when a child is more likely to suffer a burn. This is often because an adult is off guard or busy elsewhere in the home.

  • Appliances are not stored away correctly

Trying to use hair straighteners or irons is not easy with children who often grab the long cords which in turn can drag the appliance onto the floor where of course the child then suffers burns. When not in use, remember to store appliances out of the reach of children, even if they are still hot, place them on a shelf high up or the top of a fridge freezer to cool down safely.

What is the risk of electric shock?

Assuming everything else is safe, then the risk of electric shock is very small. However never leave old appliances in reach of children and never take a risk by using an appliance you know to be unsafe.

If you have any concerns about damage caused to your home electrics by a dodgy appliance or would like to know how safe your home electrics are, please call us, we are one of the leading electrical contractors in London.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Should 5 year electrical safety checks be the law in rental properties?

As electricians in South East London, we carry out work for tenants and landlords in and around the M25 area. The standard of rental homes in the private sector varies greatly and whilst most landlords do actually maintain a safe standard of electrical safety in their properties, there is still a minority of landlords who continue to rent out properties which are in a dangerous electrical condition.

Are there any laws that protect tenants against dangerous electrics?

Unfortunately there is no obligation on the landlord to provide any kind of electrical safety standards in their home. Scarily, this means that they can rent a property out with dangerous electrics. Every year, people are needlessly killed by a fatal electric shock in their rented home that could have been easily avoided.

Here at Fulcher Edwards, we carry out a wide range of electrical services in London to reputable landlords who wish to rent out their property at rental standard. Not only does this protect your assets but it protects the electrical safety of your tenants. As a landlord, you are responsible for showing how you ensured the electrical safety of your tenants if an electrical incident happens at the property.

There has been pressure on the Government to introduce a law that makes it compulsory to have electrical safety checks carried out in rental properties at least once every 5 years. In Scotland, this has just become law, so there is hope that the law will be extended into England and Wales. All electricians and landlords who we work for are all in support of this law which will save lives and prevent horrific electrical fatalities and injuries from occurring.

What kind of problems do electricians find in rented homes?

It is fair to say that there is a big difference between rented properties in the private sector. Some landlords are very good at ensuring their properties are safe, and it is fair to say that some rental properties are literally 'shocking' (excuse the pun.) As London electrical contractors we are often asked by landlords to bring their properties up to rental standard. To keep on the right side of the law and to avoid electrical shock and injury in your property we recommend:

  • An EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) to be carried out in each rental property at least once every 5 years or with every change of tenancy.
  • An RCD (Residual Current Device) these are fitted as standard on all consumer units fitted in recent years. An RCD will activate in the event of an electrical fault or problem prevented death or injury.
  • A smoke alarm and CO2 detector fitted to comply with the new laws being introduced in October 2015.
  • All electrical work in the property must be carried out by a qualified and registered electrician as a Part P certificate is needed to show compliance with Part P regulations.

The problems that we find in rented properties can be alarming. We have been called by local authorities to carry out enforced electrical work in properties where there is real risk to life, then there are other properties where it is obvious that the electrics have never been looked at since the property was built which could have been nearly 50 years ago! Unfortunately because no law exists which makes electrical safety a legal matter, landlords are repeatedly getting away with putting tenants lives at risk.

What to look for as a tenant
Before you sign a tenancy agreement, be sure to ask for an EICR and the Part P certificate for any electrical work that has been carried out recently. Most reputable landlords are happy to show you these documents and many letting agents insist on having them in place before they will market a property for rent.

If these documents are not in place, ask yourself if you are willing to compromise your electrical safety – it is only when someone is killed or seriously injured when these changes often happen.