The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has launched a free smartphone app to help people ensure their families and homes are safe. The launch comes following a new study by ESC that finds millions of people in the UK expose themselves and their families to potentially fatal accidents in the home through simple electrical blunders because of an alarming lack of knowledge about the real danger of electricity.
The research from ESC reveals a dangerous level of ignorance about the perils of electricity in UK households. In the past year, almost one million people have repaired an appliance while it is still plugged in; despite the fact this can result in a fatal or serious injury. Other electrical ‘confessions’ included knowingly using faulty plugs or sockets (12.2 million people), ignoring burning smells coming from an appliance or socket (1.5 million people) and trailing cables near hot surfaces or cookers (2 million people).
People are severely misjudging the risks involved with electricity. At least one person dies each week from its everyday use, while 350,000 people are injured annually. Yet those surveyed were as concerned about having an electrical accident as they were of being in a plane crash, or getting struck by lightning. In reality, on average, only one person in the UK is killed by lightning each year and no one has died in a commercial plane accident in 11 years.
Most electrical accidents can be prevented by a Residual Current Device (RCD), a life-saving device which prevents you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It works by cutting power if there is a surge. However, the ESC study shows a serious lack of knowledge of this vital safety device: 70% of people surveyed do not know what an RCD is and almost half of all UK homes (49%) don’t have adequate RCD protection. In contrast, smoke alarms are owned by 88% of the population but nearly half (49%) of accidental house fires in the UK are caused by electricity.
The new ESC app allows anyone – whether they live in the home or are looking to move into it – to do a quick, visual check, to ensure its electrically safety. Designed to be as easy-to-use as possible, the app highlights potential dangers in each room and explains how to resolve simple, non-technical problems. Where more serious issues are flagged, people are advised to use a registered electrician. The app is available for iPhone and Android phones - just go to the App Store or Android Market, search for ‘Home Electrical Safety Check’ then follow the instructions to download.
Director General of the ESC, Phil Buckle, said: “Electricity has become vital to our lives since the formation of the National Grid, 76 years ago. Yet even though we are using more electrical products than ever before, there is a worrying gap between the public’s perception of electrical danger and the reality, with people making simple yet potentially fatal errors that can be easily prevented. The ESC’s Home Electrical Safety Check app was designed to bridge that gap. We wanted to create something which people would find effortless but essential. It can be used any time in your home. It can also be used as a basic tool when viewing accommodation, whether you are planning to buy or rent. Landlords too, should find it useful, as it will allow them to review their properties to ensure tenant safety.”
For more information on all aspects of electrical safety visit the ESC website at www.esc.org.uk.