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Essential Info

Essential advice: electrical safety

By UALHalls 14 Oct 2016

Recently a student at UAL purchased a light box on the internet. The equipment was faulty and caused a short circuit (this is an electrical circuit that allows a current to travel along an unintended path). This in turn damaged the socket and tripped the circuit breakers in the whole block of flats. The flash also caused some fire damage to the equipment and the socket in the bedroom of the student.

Luckily on this occasion the fault did not cause a fire but it could easily have done so.

If you have purchased an electrical device and are concerned in any way please take it to the office and ask your Residence Manager or a member of the maintenance staff to check it over for you.

Electricity can kill. Do not take unnecessary chances.

Faulty electrical items can cause electric shocks and can also lead to fires which may cause death, injury to others or damage to property.

When purchasing electrical equipment please consider the following;

  • Always buy equipment from a reputable dealer or high street shop
  • Avoid cheaper unbranded goods from market stalls or the internet
  • Do a visual check of the wires and insulation
  • Check all parts are in place and nothing is loose
  • Does the plug fit the socket properly?
  • Does it have a manufacturers brand name and serial number?
  • Is it rated for the correct voltage? It needs to be 240v in the UK.
  • Is the output correct for your device?
  • Check the device has a Conformity European CE safety marking on it.

Check out the London Fire Brigade's information on spotting fakes


Checklist for electrical appliances:

Every time you use equipment and tools you need to go through this check list

Ensure the plug is not damaged. There should be no cracks or bits missing, all screws and fastenings should be in place and working

  • Ensure the cable is correctly secured in the plug with no internal wires visible
  • Check that no part of the cable, sockets or plugs have been repaired with tape or any type of connector
  • Check that the cable is in good condition with no wires showing and the outer layer is in one piece
  • Do not overload extension leads. Only use extension leads if there is no other option
  • Check the outer cover of the equipment is not damaged in a way that will give rise to an electrical or mechanical hazard
  • If equipment is broken or in need of repair please speak to your Residence Manager who will be able to recommend how to organise a fix or disposal. Never leave faulty equipment for someone else to use.

What to do in an emergency:

If you suspect a device is overheating switch it off at the socket, unplug it and place it in a safe area away from flammable items.If the device has caught fire sound the fire alarm and extinguish the fire if you feel confident to do so using a CO2 or dry powder extinguisher.

Do not use water. If you suspect someone has suffered an electric shock, do not touch them. Switch off the electricity supply to the device and move the person away from the device with an insulated tool such as a broom. If possible move them into the recovery position and call an ambulance.