Electricity safety tips
We use electricity every day and often take it for granted — but you have to take care when handling it. We've got some useful hints that will help keep you safe around electricity.
Running too many appliances off one power point by piggy-backing double adaptors, or connecting power boards together, can overload the circuit and lead to overheating, damage to equipment, or even cause a fire in your home.
Safe use of power board
Unsafe use of power board
Follow these safety tips when using power points and power boards.
It is believed that many electric shocks go unnoticed and unreported in Australia each year.
Electric shocks and tingles — slight electric shocks — happen for a variety of reasons but can sometimes be an indication that there's an underlying electrical fault that requires urgent attention.
It's important to take note of any tingling feeling you get whenever you touch metal, such as taps, sinks, appliances or fittings — which all act as conductors.
If left unchecked the cause of a tingle or electrical shock could put you and your family at risk.
You need to immediately report all tingles and shocks, no matter how minor, to ActewAGL by calling 13 10 93.
Once a shock is reported, ActewAGL will take immediate action and, if necessary, provide assistance to help ensure you are safe. The cause will then be investigated by the appropriate authority.
Safety switches detect small amounts of constant electrical fault current leaking to earth and quickly switch off the electricity, minimising electric shock and reducing the risk of fire.
Safety switches wired into power and light circuits give reliable protection against serious shock. Other equipment, apparatus and circuits of an electrical installation may not have safety switch protection.
Switchboard safety switches provide protection on electrical circuits connected to it throughout the house, and for those electrical appliances and extension cords connected to earth leakage protected power points.
Power point safety switches that replace an existing power point, protect extension cords and electrical appliances plugged into the outlet, and the electrical wiring and power points downstream from the safety switch on the same circuit.
Portable safety switches protect portable electrical appliances and extension cords plugged into the safety switch. If using power tools or electrical appliances outdoors that are not protected by a switchboard or power point safety switch, these safety switches are essential.
Installing safety switches
From 1991 to 2000 it was mandatory to install safety switches in new homes to protect power points, except those supplying fridges and freezers, and in existing homes to protect new power circuits.
From 2000, it has been mandatory to install safety switches to all electricity and lighting circuits in new homes and in building extensions and alterations to existing homes where new light and power circuits are required.
It is important to seek advice from a licensed electrician regarding the installation of safety switches. Make sure you understand what electricity and lighting circuits will be protected. A licensed electrician must install switchboard and power point safety switches.
Using safety switches
If a safety switch has tripped and shut down the electricity supply, it may be that the fault was temporary, or due to lightning. Resetting the safety switch should restore the electricity supply. If you cannot reset the safety switch, contact a licensed electrician to find and repair the fault.
Check each safety switch by turning off all plug-in appliances before pressing its test button every month.
Portable electric heaters can be a fire hazard if care is not taken. When using portable electric heaters it is important to follow these steps.
Using electrical appliances outdoors can be dangerous, so make sure you take appropriate precautions.
ActewAGL and the ACT Fire Brigade would like to remind the community to put safety first when installing and operating Christmas lighting this holiday season.
To help our community stay safe when installing and operating decorative lights, ActewAGL and the ACT Fire Brigade have created a number of easy-to-follow electrical safety tips.
Always read the manufacturer's instructions before setting up and operating lights, as well as before replacing lamps and globes. When setting up fairy lights and other electrical displays don't overload power boards or piggy back double adaptors.
Never join one set of lights onto the end of another set of lights. Don't run leads or extension cords through doorways and windows and ensure they don't create a trip hazard.
Never modify lighting outfits, plugs or cords and never replace fuse wire or plug-in circuit breakers with larger sizes.
Also, take care when working at heights, such as roofs or large trees. Always use an appropriate, safe and secure ladder or stepladder to hang items higher than you can reach.
Only buy and use decorative lights that have an Australian Standards label and approval mark.
Decorative lights may become very hot so keep them away from children and flammable materials, such as wrapping paper, and always switch off all electrical displays and decorative lights before going to bed.
Check all of your lights before use and if the wiring, lamps, cords or plugs appear damaged don't use them. Turn off the power and unplug the power cord before replacing bulbs with the same type and wattage.
Always switch off and unplug lights before watering or pruning your Christmas tree.
Ensure the lighting system is weatherproof and suitable for outdoor use. Safer outdoor lights use an approved transformer that converts 240 volts to an extra-low voltage supply. To prevent overheating ensure transformers are well ventilated.
Always have approved outdoor 240-volt lights installed by a licensed electrician if they are to be a permanent or long-term festive lighting system. This includes festoon lighting and exterior power points for lighting transformers. Never use 240-volt lighting on tinsel Christmas trees.
Keep extension cords off the ground to avoid damage or trip hazards. Attach cords and lighting strings to existing fixtures with appropriate tape, electrical cable ties, clips or clamps — never use nails. Cords should be suspended at 2.5 metres above ground using approved plugs and cord extension sockets.
Keep all electrical connections and transformers out of areas that may become wet due to watering or extreme weather conditions. Where there is no permanently installed safety switch, use a portable one at the supply.
Never trim outdoor trees containing lighting and be aware of the location of powerlines at all times.
For more electrical safety advice call 13 10 93.
For technical issues contact the regulator, ACT Planning and Land Authority, on 13 22 81.
To install lights safely you should read the manufacturer's instructions to check if lights are weatherproof and suitable for outdoor use.
Safer outdoor lights have an approved transformer that converts 240 volts to an extra-low voltage supply. There are four types of extra low-voltage lighting systems available: light sculptures, rope, fairy and bud lighting.
Always have approved outdoor 240-volt lights, including festoon lights, and exterior power points for lighting transformers installed by a licensed electrician if they are to be a permanent or long-term festive lighting system.
Check bulbs and tubing
Installing outdoor lighting
To avoid an electric shock
Electrical fatalities can be caused by accidental contact with overhead powerlines, so make sure you take the following precautions.
If you have a private power pole, make sure that you understand your responsibilities in maintaining it or risk its disconnection from the electricity network.
Source — sa.gov.au
For more advice call ActewAGL on 13 14 93 or for technical issues call the regulator, ACT Planning and Land Authority on 6207 1923.
Please refer to our electricity emergencies page for information on what to do in an emergency.
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