Electricians warn about winter dangers
With winter just around the corner the peak Australian electrical industry body the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) is urging residents across Australia to take extra care using electrical appliances that might have been in storage since last winter and to be more safety conscious: checking smoke alarms and safety switches.
During the winter months the risk of house fires increase dramatically as heating equipment which has not been used for months is plugged in and power boards are overloaded as more electrical equipment is used around the home.
According to NECA’s Chief Executive Officer James Tinslay these dangers can be avoided through being safety conscious and taking a few simple precautions.
“Winter is the time of the year when Australians need to be especially safety conscious as heating equipment is brought back into use and more electrical equipment is used,” he said.
“Many people would have pulled out heaters and electric blankets that haven’t seen the light of day since last winter. Heaters and electric blankets are like any other electrical appliance and can be damaged during storage.
“NECA and electricians across Australia urge anyone using old electrical appliances to make sure they do not have damaged plugs or wiring before turning them on. A quick visual inspection can help identify a fault. There is a real risk if damaged electrical appliances are used so it is our strong advice that if a fault is identified to stop using it and either throw it away or get it fixed by a licensed repairer.”
Mr Tinslay says the start of winter is a good time to check that your smoke alarm is working.
“Smoke alarms save lives and all residents should have them installed. If your smoke alarm is not hard-wired, changing the battery regularly is critical. Choosing an annual date for your calendar – like the onset of winter – to change the battery is a simple but effective method to ensure your smoke alarm is always working. Even better is to get a hard-wired smoke alarm installed by a licensed electrician.”
NECA supports the installation of Residual Current Devices (RCDs) – also known as safety switches – into all homes as an extra level of protection. It is compulsory for all new homes and homes that have had significant renovations to install RCDs but this means many older homes still do not have them installed.
“A simple inspection by a licensed electrician could identify whether a home is at risk by having dangerous old wiring or the omission of a safety switch or smoke alarm. Anyone concerned about the state of their wiring or need a safety switch or hard-wired smoke alarm installed should contact their local licensed electrician and discuss options to have this fixed,” Mr Tinslay said.