How to handle an electrical shock that occurs at home
- Disconnect the main switch: if this cannot be done, and only if possible, disconnect the electricity at the wall plug to which the appliance is connected
- If the electricity cannot be disconnected, do not touch the victim as you will be electrocuted as well. Rather take hold of his clothing and drag him from the point of contact. If his clothing is wet, protect yourself by means of dry rubber gloves or dry newspapers or plastic. A wooden/plastic broom handle may also be used
- Push the victim away from the source of electricity with a non-conducting object like a broom or a chair (wood/plastic). Do not touch any metal objects
- Evaluate the victim’s breathing (ceased/irregular?) and check for a pulse. Attempt heart massage/artificial ventilation to restore spontaneous heart/breathing functions
- If another person is available, let him/or call an ambulance
- Treat injuries that may have been caused by a fall
- Even in the event of serious electrical shocks, the after effects are, as a rule, not serious. However, a person who has lost consciousness must be kept under observation for at least 24 hours. Even if there are no obvious injuries after a heavy electrical shock, a doctor should be consulted in any case
Electrical safety at home
- Replace worn and frayed electrical cords immediately
- Keep cords away from stoves, hot and abrasive surfaces
- Electrical cords should be routed in such a manner that it is unnecessary to walk over them
- Do not route electrical cords under carpets
- Never disconnect a plug by pulling at the cord. Ensure that the switch is in the “OFF” position before disconnecting the plug
- Never use electrical appliances in the bathroom
- Never connect electrical appliances to light sockets
- Do not connect too many plugs to one socket
- Do not touch metal objects like taps, refrigerators or stoves while holding an electrical appliance
- Do not fill electric kettles while they are connected to the power plug
- Do not operate an electrical mower while touching a garden hose or tap
- Always comply with the equipment manufacturer’s prescribed safety precautions
- Follow the golden rule: always disconnect the power supply at the main switch when electrical appliances are repaired
- All household appliances must be earthed wherever possible
- Test your earth leakage unit regularly by depressing the test button
- Do not operate the washing machine when you are barefoot. Place a rubber strip in front of the washing machine or wear shoes with rubber soles when operating the washing machine
- Do not attempt to take something out of a toaster with a metal utensil while supply is switched on
- Do not overload a wall plug with appliances – it can cause overheating and a fire
- Do not touch electrical appliances with wet hands and do not attempt to switch on a wall plug while washing dishes
- Periodically check all appliances for secure leads and proper earthling – rather replace a worn lead than fixing it
- If fuses are used, ensure that the correct rating is installed when replacing a blown fuse
- Do not pass electric cords from one room to another through hinges of doors or windows where they can be squashed and damaged
Electrical safety outside the home
- Electric lawnmowers should be handled with care. Do not mow the lawn while it is wet. Wear shoes with rubber soles when mowing the lawn. If the cord gets cut accidentally, or if the cord of your lawnmower or edge trimmer is entangled in the blades, do not touch the equipment. Switch off and remove the plug from the socket before working on the machine
- Weed eaters should only be used in dry conditions. Do not tug on the lead while on if it is stuck
- Electrical tools, e.g. drills, extension leads, etc. must be in good condition when used
- An extension lead socket outlet must not be placed on a wet surface. Choose the correct size lead with an appropriate length for the job
- A coiled lead forms an electrical field (heat) around the lead – rather uncoil the lead totally before it is used
- Do not wash electrical equipment with water. Switch the appliance off, remove the plug and wipe it off with a dry rag
General electrical safety
- Always isolate the supply when attempting repairs on electrical equipment – remove the plug and put it next to you. This will prevent someone accidentally switching it on and cause you injury
- As the adult, you are to ensure that all electrical repairs or extensions to an existing installation are carried out by a qualified person to comply with the law and safety requirements
- If you have children in the house, install dummy plug. This will prevent children from putting their fingers or objects into the wall plug
- Never try to put out a fire caused by a faulty electrical appliance by throwing water on it while the power is still on. First unplug the appliance or switch off the power at the main switch, and use a dry chemical fire extinguisher
Safety before, during and after power interruptions
Before a power outage
- Make sure that your cellphone’s battery is fully charged at all times. Not only is this a good idea regardless of the circumstances, but when landline telecommunications are interrupted due to power outages, you will need your cellphone to reach the outside world
- Adequate fuel in your vehicle is another precaution, given that pumps at petrol stations cannot be operated during power outages
- The same goes for ATMs, therefore some cash stored in a safe place at home is a good idea
- To ensure that you will be able to get into (and out of) you home, release automatic electric garage door mechanisms and switch electric security gates to manual operation.
- Make sure you have torches, batteries, candles and matches, and put them somewhere where they can be easily found in the dark. It is a good idea to keep a torch (with fresh batteries) by your bedside at all times
- Invest in a small LP gas lamp, as they provide good quality lighting for a large area, and in a gas heating ring for essential cooking
- When you are warned about a pre-scheduled power interruption, boil water and keep in a thermos flask for hot drinks, prepare meals beforehand and use thermal covers to keep the food warm
- If you have a fireplace, make sure that you have adequate wood or charcoal for a fire. If not, invest in a gas heater. Not only will this come in handy during an outage, but gas is far more effective for space heating than electricity
During an outage
During a power outage, it is best to make sure that all lights and appliances are switched off and, where applicable, unplugged. Not only will this avoid a cacophony of sound and light when the power returns, but it will also protect your appliances against possible power surges while supply is being restored. It is wise, though, to leave a single light switch in the “on” position to alert you when the power returns.
Refrain from opening the refrigerator door during a power outage as this will allow the cold air to escape. By keeping the door closed, a power outage of up to four hours will not cause food to spoil in the fridge, while a freezer should keep frozen food safe for at least a day. It is a good idea to have snacks available that do not need refrigeration.
From a security point of view, ensure that all doors and windows are locked should your alarm system not have a back-up power supply.
Given that the usual evening entertainment, i.e. television, radio and computer games, will not be available during a power outage, be prepared to keep the family occupied with books and board games.
After the outage
Once the power had been restored, do not switch all your appliances on at once as the power supply might still be slightly unstable. Only switch on those you need immediately.
It is a good idea to switch appliances on and off systematically to make sure that no damage was caused by the power interruption, and that the equipment is in good working order.
Remember to reset electronic clocks, especially your bedside alarm, and other timers that could have been disturbed, such as the pool pump or sprinkler system.