7 Electrical Safety Myths Busted
Did you know that according to the electrical safety charity Electricity Safety First, over half of all domestic fires in the UK in 2018/19 had an electrical origin? Electrical safety does not have shortcuts, and turning a blind eye to them can have serious consequences – from injuries to damage to property, and even fatalities. In this blog post, we will be doubling down on common electrical safety myths, so you can avoid potential accidents in the future.
Certain electrical jobs will require a competent, qualified individual e.g. a registered electrician, however, we understand that sometimes there are things that are acceptable to approach yourself, i.e. changing a lightbulb. To protect yourself, we’ve debunked popular electrical safety myths so that you can separate fact from fiction – whether you’re dealing with an electrical issue yourself or appointing an electrician.
Where do electricity safety myths come from?
There are around 259,000 registered electricians in the UK as of 2019, so it is likely to be a mixture of things being communicated from electrician to electrician, and ending up lost in translation. This may lead to people misunderstanding information, then passing these “facts” on to other workers, leading to a cycle of myths being passed around.
To avoid this, when it comes to electrical work, ensure that you are consulting a properly qualified and highly-rated electrician. A “cow-boy” electrician may cost you less in the short term, but could create problems further down the line both financially and from a safety perspective, too.
Myth 1: Wood is an insulator
Contrary to popular belief, wood is actually not an insulator. In fact, it is actually a very weak conductor, so do not be fooled by this widely held misconception. Damp wood or wooden structures containing metal will strengthen their position as a conductor. Take caution – using a wooden ladder when you are working with live wires won’t guarantee 100% safety for these reasons.
Myth 2: As long as the voltage is low, the harm will be low
This widely held belief might sound logical, but it isn’t completely the truth. This isn’t to suggest that voltage isn’t an important factor when it comes to electrical safety, however, voltage is just what pushes the current along. The current itself is more important in determining how dangerous an electrical safety threat is. Even low voltages can cause fatalities if the current is strong enough.
Myth 3: The more PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) you wear, the better
Having the right kind of PPE for specific scenarios is more important than having several at once when it comes to electrical safety. Having more might be as dangerous as having none at all, and this is because not all personal protection equipment is created equally. There is no one-size-fits-all PPE, so make sure you have the appropriate ones required for the electrical job.
Myth 4: Rubber will always insulate against electricity
In principle, this is true, but only applies if we are talking about 100% rubber. Household gloves, or everyday rubber items, for example, are not 100% rubber, so they will not give you complete protection. Look for proper insulating gloves that list the voltage class and have information on the arc rating.
Myth 5: Electricity is absorbed or cut-off when it reaches the ground
Unless the ground is highly insulated with something like snow, this isn’t true. When electricity reaches the ground, it completes a circuit and goes back to the source, so it doesn’t just disappear.
Myth 6: Electrical appliances cut out when submerged in water
Water can still act as a conducting path in electrical components, so you should never try to reach for them in water. They do not short out and stop working when in water, so you should never assume that appliances that are in a body of water are safe to handle.
Myth 7: All fallen wires create a spark
If they don’t create a spark, are they safe to handle? The answer is: no. This is not always the case. If a wire directly touches the ground, then you may not see any sparks at all – instead, the wires are de-energising and are still dangerous. The lack of spark does not mean it is safe to handle, so treat all fallen wires as if they are live.
Health and safety may not be a particularly exciting topic, but with electrical accidents claiming hundreds of lives every year, it helps to be aware of the misconceptions that you might come across when it comes to electrical safety. If you are taking on an electrical project yourself, be sure you have familiarised yourself with these electrical safety myths. When it comes to choosing an electrician, ensure they are qualified and have the required training, as opposed to solely choosing someone with years of experience.