Using electrical devices safely at home

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Plugging too many appliances into one socket or an extension lead can cause overheating and become a fire risk, so please avoid doing this and make sure you are using electrical devices safely at home.

On this page you can find useful advice to help keep you, your family and neighbours safe.

Electrical Safety – Overloading sockets

When using an electrical extension lead, you can avoid the risk of an electrical overload by following these simple steps:

  • Check the current rating of the extension lead before you plug appliances into it. Most are rated at 13 A, but some are rated at only 10 A or less - the rating should be clearly marked on the back or underside of the extension lead. If not, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never overload an extension lead by plugging in appliances that together will exceed the maximum current rating stated for the extension lead. This could cause the plug in the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire.
  • For an indication only of the current ratings of commonly-used domestic appliances, use this handy Overload Calculator.

Preventing Overloads

To stop overloading plug sockets and extension leads:

  • Only use one socket extension lead per socket and never plug an extension lead into another extension lead
  • Use a multi-way bar extension lead rather than a block adaptor, as this will put less strain on the wall socket. Some block adaptors do not have a fuse, which increases the risk of overloading and fire.

Check regularly for the following danger signs:

  • a smell of hot plastic or burning near an appliance or socket
  • sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance
  • blackness or scorch marks around a socket or plug, or on an appliance
  • damaged or frayed leads
  • coloured wire inside leads showing at the plug or anywhere else
  • melted plastic on appliance casings or leads
  • fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that operate for no obvious reason