It seems straightforward: you flip a switch, and a light comes on. But electricity is anything but simple—it has a dark side. Electricity can cause an electrical hazard and fire, which is a reason to take electrical safety precautions at home when living with electricity, and at work, when working around electricity.
The FPASA estimates that there are a little over 4,000 electrical fires every year throughout South Africa, with 81% occurring in urban areas than in rural areas. Whether it's because of exposed cabling, tampering of electrical boxes, misuse of electrical workplace equipment, faulty electrical fencing installations, or the negligence of electrical wiring safety—electricity injures and kills a high number of South Africans each year.
You power your home with energy—but do you know much about electricity and safety?
Did you know? Humans are more conductive than the ground we stand on, which means if there is no other easy path for electricity to take, it will try to flow through our bodies. Even changing a light bulb without unplugging the lamp can lead to electric shock. Electrical currents cannot exist without a path which means if you place a damaged 3-prong plug in a socket, the electricity will take the most accessible pathway from the plug-in, and back to the power source—you.
Electrical safety in your home and workplace is too important to ignore
At Electric Certificate of Compliance, we believe that a significant lack of workplace and domestic electrical safety awareness has contributed to unhealthy, dangerous attitudes surrounding electrical health and safety. As specialists in electric compliance requirements, and as providers of 24/7 electrical support to residential, commercial and industrial properties throughout South Africa, we’ve put together six workplace and household electrical safety tips to safeguard your kids, pets, and employees from danger.
1.Upgrade to the SANS 164-2 plug and outlet system
With so many electrical hazards at home and in the workplace, South Africa made it compulsory to install the new SANS 164-2 plug and outlet system in 2018. Replacing the notoriously dangerous three-pronged, round pin plug, the new electrocution-proof plug not only protects crawling babies from electrocution, but it can accept up to six-plugs in one box. It’s also a lot cheaper than the traditional 3-prong plug.
Pro Tip: Water and electricity are a lethal combination. That said, never use water to kill an electrical fire but keep a bucket of clean sand ready outside your kitchen door, or if possible, a small fire extinguisher.
2.Replace damaged electrical power cords—or avoid them all-together
The safe use of extension leads can be the difference between life and death. Exposed wiring, damaged power cords, or an electrical extension cord left out in the open for kids and pets to nibble are the #1 cause of electrocution and fire. To keep kids and pets safe and to ensure electrical cord safety in the workplace and at home, maintain a monthly electrical safety inspection and replace damaged cords, and keep cords away from children and pets. But do not hide them under rugs or furniture as this can lead to overheating, leading to a fire.
Pro Tip: The purpose of an electrical extension cord is to give the user the added length to reach an outlet when their appliance isn’t close enough. However, if you rely on a chord as a permanent power source, you need to contact a licensed electrician to install an additional outlet.
3.Unplug to reduce risk
Switching off the main power during electrical work is one of the most important electric shock safety tips, but it’s a practice most forget. When an appliance is not in use, unplug it. Not only does this save money by reducing the amount of energy the device consumes even when not actively in use), but unplugging unused appliances also protects them from overheating or power surges.
Pro Tip: Install a smoke alarm, plan an escape route, and have a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are your best defence weapon when a fire breaks out. Keep one in the kitchen and one upstairs or on the other side of the property.
4.Check that you’re using the correct wattage in all your fixtures and appliances
Using the incorrect light bulbs can create an electrical hazard, so do a home electrical check on all your lamps, fixtures, and appliances to ensure the correct wattage. If a light fixture has no wattage listed, use 60-watt bulbs, and for unmarked ceiling fixtures, choose 25-watt bulbs. If you’re uncertain about wattage, electrical appliance safety, or electrical outlet safety—speak to an electrical safety officer.
Pro Tip: LED bulbs consume less power and reduce the risk of fixtures overheating.
5.Child-proof your home with tamper-resistant items
Kids are naturally curious about the world, so it’s important to guard them and teach them about electricity safety from a young age. To ensure electrical safety for kids, child-proof your home with safety caps and covers placed over all outlets throughout the property and hide electrical cords from curious hands.
Pro Tip: Do you know the temperature of your geyser? High - temperature settings eat in your electricity costs and can cause accidental burns to young children. Switch your geyser on two-hours before use and switch off again after.
6.Know when to call a professional
Most electricity-related accidents transpire because of a lack of understanding of electrical safety & know-how. For this reason, homeowners cannot renovate, build or sell any property without an Electric Clearance Certificate (ECC), certified by the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa and the Electrical Conformance Board of South Africa (ECB).
The National Fire Protection Association reports that faulty or damaged wiring and related electrical equipment cause 69% of electrical fires. To ensure that your electricity at home and in the workplace is up to date, adhere to electrical installation safety regulations, and function properly all-year-round—hire a qualified electrician.
Pro Tip: Only hire an electrician registered with the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa and the Electrical Conformance Board of South Africa (ECB).
We are specialists in residential, commercial and industrial electrical safety services
There is nothing more devastating than losing your home or business to a fire because of an electrical fault that could have been prevented. Don’t take chances—consult with Electric Certificate of Compliance.
Complying with Occupational Health and Safety standards and SABS standards, our qualified electricians provide electrical safety assessments, electrical cord inspections, accurate advice, and installations, maintenance, repairs and upgrades according to the latest SANS 10143 wiring code, book of practice.