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Electricity is dangerous so safety is our top priority. We want to help you recognise the dangers and stay safe.

Planning to construct or work with scaffolding?
Be aware of the potential dangers of coming into contact with our electricity network - ‘Work Safe – Think Electricity’. Take a few minutes to watch our safety film and share it with colleagues before starting work – it could save a life. Watch the film here.

Using electricity safely in the home
Electricity is very safe if you observe sensible precautions – and ensure that children or vulnerable adults in your home understand the dangers. Below you can find detailed safety advice dealing with different appliances and areas around the home and garden. 

Here’s a quick summary of the main points:

  • Never use electrical equipment with a worn flex. 
  • Always turn the power off before working on any appliance - even changing a light bulb
  • When using electrical equipment outdoors, e.g. drills, saws, trimmers or lawnmowers, plug the appliance into a Residual Current Device (RCD). This will cut the power, if there’s a problem or if you slice through the flex. 
  • Always call a qualified electrician when work on your house wiring is needed.

Avoiding danger outside the home 

  • Never enter electricity substations
  • Never climb electricity towers or poles 
  • Don’t fly kites near overhead power lines

Turning off the power

  • In an emergency (an electrical fire, for example) you’ll want to cut the power immediately. Make sure you know where your mains switch (or switches) are. Some installations, electric storage heaters for example, might have a separate consumer unit.

Energy theft

Energy theft is when a person is not paying for their electricity or they are paying less than they should because their meter has been tampered or bypassed.  A tampered meter is dangerous for the occupiers and it may place their neighbours at risk too.  If you are aware of meter tampering please report it.

How can I report energy theft or suspicious activity?

  • Call the stayenergysafe reporting line on 0800 023 2777. Lines are open 24 hours a day
  • Complete the anonymous form on the stayenergysafe website

RCDs

  • RCDs are special safety switches that disconnect the electricity supply (or part of the supply) under certain conditions, often a potentially dangerous earth fault. If your installation includes one or more RCDs, test them every three months by pressing the button marked ‘T’ or ‘Test’. 
  • This should switch off the supply. To restore power, simply switch it back on. Contact an electrician if there’s a problem when you test the RCD. 

Circuit breakers

  • More modern fuse boxes (usually called Consumer Units) use Circuit breakers. These automatically ‘trip’ if there’s a fault, instantly switching off that circuit if there’s a fault. They give more precise protection than fuses. When they trip, you can simply reset the switch. But if after disconnecting appliances on the circuit, it continues to trip, you should contact a qualified electrician to trace the fault.

Electric heaters and fans are safe if you observe some common sense precautions.

Here are some general safety tips:

  • Make sure that they are kept away from flammable furnishings and that their leads won’t be tripped over.
  • Keep electric fans away from gas hobs or other open flames.
  • Keep heaters clear of papers, bedding, draperies, and other combustible materials.
  • Keep any appliance away from water to prevent electric shocks.
  • Never leave heaters or fans unattended or with children or pets 
  • Keep all types of heater clean and free from dust and fluff
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays near any heater
  • Don’t dry laundry by the fire
  • Wall-mounted radiators should be one metre away from furnishings or doors
  • Don’t cover up the air grilles of storage heaters, fans or convection heaters

Bathroom heaters and towel rails
All electric heaters and water heaters in bathrooms must be fixed and permanently wired – NEVER with a plug and socket. They must also be at least 60cm away from the bath or shower. Electric heaters should be controlled by a pull-cord or by a switch located outside the bathroom.


Flooding and electricity
If flood water does enter your property our advice is to switch off the electricity at the mains, if it’s safe to do so. Do not touch any electrical equipment, switches or sockets when standing in water or if the electrical equipment is wet, damp or has been flooded and the electricity is on.

Flood water may damage our electrical equipment as well as the internal wiring in the property. Once the water has cleared, please call our emergency numbers on the right of this screen. Read here to help you identify our equipment and your electricity suppliers equipment.

Please visit the Environment Agency website or here for more flood advice.


Restoring electricity following a flood
Following the electrical damage caused by flooding we will be helping your local council and your electricity supplier to return your electricity supplies to normal. We want to inform you of the role we will play in the restoration of your supply and advise you about the next steps which you will need to take to ensure your power is reconnected at the earliest opportunity.

Our engineers will begin by checking your equipment up to the point where it joins up with your internal electrical wiring, known as the ‘cut out’, this is to ensure it is dry and safe to reconnect.

If we identify water damage to this item of equipment we will work with those affected to replace the cut outs where necessary. We will ask you to arrange a certificate from a qualified electrician to show your property is safe to have the power switched back on. If your electrical installations were not damaged we will ask you to organise a safety test via your own or your electrician. Please note that we cannot carry out any repairs to your internal electrical wiring. This will need to be rectified by a qualified electrician before we can reconnect your power supply.

Please note, any damaged electricity meters need to be changed before we can switch on your power and these need to be replaced by your electricity supplier (the company which you pay your electricity bills to). Read here to help you identify our equipment and your electricity suppliers equipment.

Once you have this assurance from an electrician and the necessary certificate please call us on the numbers on the right of this screen so we can turn your power back on as soon as possible.

Make sure all appliance power leads and plugs are in good condition and kept well away from moisture, heat, and metal pipes. Never cover them with a rug or furniture or expose them to corrosive materials. Don’t use an appliance if any part of the cable is worn, split or frayed. Check that the lead is securely attached to both the appliance and the plug.

Check your plugs

  • Check for signs of damage or discolouration on the casing
  • Check that it’s marked as conforming to British Standard BS 1363
  • Make sure the lead is firmly clamped in the plug and that no coloured wires are showing
  • Check the plug is wired properly

Correct wiring
In the UK, all modern appliances use a square pin 13 amp plug. Unless the plug is moulded, use a screwdriver to remove the cover and check the:

  • BROWN wire goes to live (L)
  • BLUE wire goes to neutral (N)
  • GREEN AND YELLOW wire goes to earth (E)
  • SCREWS holding the three wires are tight
  • FUSE is the correct size and meets British Standard BS 1362 and that it is securely in its holder

Extension leads

  • Avoid using extension leads if you can reach a power socket with the appliance’s own lead, without overstretching it. 
  • Don’t use leads that are more than 15 m long unless the extension is fitted with an RCD.
  • Only use extension leads fitted with properly-insulated connectors and plugs.
  • If using outside, make sure plugs are rubber or otherwise waterproofed.
  • If the lead has to cross a pathway temporarily, cover it with a rubber protector strip
  • Check that the extension lead plug contains the right fuse for the equipment you’re using.
  • When using a cable drum extension lead, completely unwind the cable from the drum to avoid it overheating.

If you live in a rural or farming area or on a campsite or caravan site, here are some safety tips to protect you.

Think before you pitch

  • In recent years, several people have been injured or killed when putting up tents or moving long objects around caravan sites, because they came into contact with live overhead electricity lines.
  • If this should happen, dial 999 and tell them that electricity is involved. 
Download safety near power lines when camping [pdf]

Safety tips:

  • Avoid, pitching your tent or caravan directly under or close to overhead power lines.
  • Be particularly aware when putting up TV aerials or radio masts next to mobile homes or fixed caravans.
  • Stay well away from any power lines close to the campsite you are intending to use.
  • If you’re walking below overhead power lines, carrying long objects such as metal poles, fishing rods or yacht masts, always carry them parallel to the ground.

Living in a rural environment
In the countryside, electricity is often carried on overhead power lines attached to wood poles or metal pylons. These power lines can sometimes be hidden by trees or hedges. Note also that there will also be cables under the ground, so be aware before digging.

Take special care if:

  • Tall vehicles, such as delivery lorries are likely to visit your premises.
  • If you’re planning any new building work (extensions, barns or stables) which could be close to the overhead power lines.
  • If you are positioning scaffolding or carrying ladders close to the overhead power lines.  Carry long objects parallel to the ground and remember electricity can jump gaps so you do not need to touch a power line to receive a shock. 

Be aware if:

  • You’re storing building materials, stacks of hay or straw, or anything else underneath the overhead power lines that may decrease the clearance space from the line.
  • A power line is lying on the ground. Overhead power lines can sometimes be brought down by strong winds, a high vehicle, or by trees or branches falling on them. Do not assume that it is dead.

In an emergency:

  • Call the emergency services and tell them that electricity is involved. They will know how to contact us.
  • Keep everyone (including animals if possible) well away
  • If a vehicle is caught in the overhead power lines tell the occupant(s) to stay inside. If this is not possible (e.g. if the vehicle catches fire) then they must jump clear of the vehicle without touching it & quickly move away.
  • If you would like further help or advice, contact your local electricity company.

First, check your trip switch. This is found in your consumer unit. If it’s still on, call us on the numbers to the left. Or click here to see if we are aware of a power cut at your address. 

If the trip switch is off, try switching it back on. If it switches off again, one of your appliances may be faulty, so unplug all appliances and then reset the trip switch. 

You can also check whether your neighbours have also lost their electricity supply. If your neighbours don't have power then call us on the numbers to the left.

If your neighbours do have power

  • First, check your trip switch. (In your Consumer Unit.) If it’s still on, call the emergency line.
  • If the trip switch is off, try switching it back on. If it switches off again, one of your appliances may be faulty, so unplug all appliances and then reset the trip switch.

Do you use a token card meter?

  • If so, check that you still have credit on your card.

Has only part of your supply failed?

  • If you have a partial power cut, and the trip won’t reset, there may be a fault with your wiring. You should contact a registered electrician. Please note: the wiring within your property is your responsibility and we are unable to repair it or contribute to the cost of repair.  

Reporting damaged power lines or equipment
Call your area’s emergency number immediately, if you:

  • Spot any damaged or sparking power lines or equipment or overhead lines that are on the ground or low enough for people or vehicles to touch.
  • See broken substation fences, damaged electricity manholes or live electricity meters and equipment that are not secure or waterproof.

Take care around cables
Keep clear of cables on or near the ground. They might be live and able to conduct electricity through damp ground or metallic objects. If they are in roads or on footpaths dial 999, tell the police and help keep passers-by clear of them.

Turning off the power in an emergency
In an emergency (an electrical fire, for example) you’ll want to cut the power immediately. Make sure you know where your mains switch (or switches) are. Some installations, electric storage heaters for example, might have a separate consumer unit. 

Dos and Don’ts in an emergency

  • DO check your trip switch/es (You’ll find them in the consumer unit/fuse box)
  • DO report any damaged power lines or other equipment
  • DO use a specialist for all electrical servicing and repairs
  • DO remember to unplug electrical appliances before cleaning or inspecting them
  • DO NOT let things get critical before seeking help
  • DO NOT open your fridge and freezer, unless absolutely necessary
  • DO NOT neglect naked flames, such as candles; ideally, have a battery-operated lamp or standing electric torch
  • DO NOT use your car as a place to stay warm or to sleep, especially inside a garage
  • DO NOT use Calor gas heaters in a closed room; ensure good ventilation
  • DO NOT let children near open flame, heaters, or lead acid batteries.

All of us who are responsible for young people - whether parents, teachers or others, want to help them to keep safe.

Our interactive website, called Power Up! is packed full of useful information about electricity and keeping safe for 7 – 14 year olds, teachers and parents. With games, quizzes and interesting facts about electricity, it’s designed to support the Key Stages 2 and 3 electricity curriculum in an engaging and exciting way. Visit the Power Up! website.

 

 

To request Think before you dig, Vehicle cab stickers and receive additional safety leaflets please contact us at MBX-HSSEDkit@ukpowernetworks.co.uk

 
Our dedicated Public Safety team operate in our local communities with responsibility, integrity and respect, building positive relationships and a safe working environment and community for all.  We have a broad range of proactive measures in place which help raise awareness of the potential dangers of coming into contact with our electricity network. 
 
We support and attend community initiatives such as attending summer County Shows, Safety, Health and Awareness Days, demonstrations at events with outdoor leisure communities, as well as provide tool box talks, coaching for Contractors and advice for external companies such as construction, scaffolding and demolition.