Electrical safety in the garden – are you at risk?

Burning cable

We have seen a real improvement in the weather all over the UK over the past week. With it, has seen the expected increase in bbq's and garden parties – and of course I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I didn't tell you what fire and electrical risks I have seen in my local area around Nottingham.


Beware of fire!


Think carefully about where your bbq is positioned. Heat and flames from the bbq can ignite garden fences, trees and other plants in your garden which are perfect fuel for a growing fire. Only last weekend saw the fire brigade called to a road in my local area to put out a serious fire caused by a bbq. The fire was so severe it melted the guttering and drain pipes on the house as well as causing smoke damage inside.


Another good reason why you should invest in a smoke alarm!


A fire doesn't have to happen indoors for a working smoke alarm to be vitally important in your home. In the case of the fire above, the smoke alarms in the property were activated long before anyone in the house would have been aware of the severity of the fire. Additionally it would have been very difficult for anyone from the garden to access the house to let anyone inside know of the fire.


Thanks to the smoke alarm activating, people in the house were able to safely evacuate before the fire spread – which it did very quickly despite the fire brigade attending very quickly with two fire engines!


Here is the video:

I covered the importance of fire alarm systems in my blog post last week, however if you have yet to action this – please do so as soon as possible by contacting an electrician in Nottingham.


Electrical Safety in the garden


This might seem obvious to most, but it is surprising what a bit of sun can do to people! Remember your garden is not quite an extension to your living room, so please do not be tempted to bring electrical equipment such as televisions, radios, x-boxes and speakers out into your garden. I see on several occasions over the hot Summer months people bringing all these items out into their garden – obviously this is dangerous – not only because of trailing leads and the overloading of extension leads which I see so often in and around the Nottingham area but also the fact there is rarely any RCD protection in place which prevents electrical shock.


How will an RCD help protect against electrical shock?


Drinks especially at garden parties can easily get spilt on electrical items as well as protecting against electrical overload which could cause overheating and fire. RCD's have been responsible for saving lives and protecting against serious fires in recent years. In fact only last weekend, I saw once again how an RCD helped to protect against electrical fire where I saw two 3kW water urns plugged into an extension lead at a school fayre. The RCD was activating when attempts were made to heat both the urns at the same time. Although the tea was delayed slightly at the event, the outcome could've been far worse – an electrical fire could have occurred – and incidentally – the cable was trailing over a wooden fence – a recipe for disaster!


If your home has RCD protection then you will be protected outside in your garden as well. However, if your home has no RCD protection I strongly recommend you purchase RCD sockets to use on all electrical equipment used outdoors. These can be purchased at reasonable cost from well known high street outlets such as supermarkets and DIY stores.


Other electrical hazards


  • Lawn mowers and other electrical garden equipment


Do not use such electrical items in wet or damp conditions and use in accordance to the manufacturers instructions. Always use with RCD protection.


  • Ponds, water features and water pumps


These must be installed by a qualified and registered electrician, maintained in good working order and protected by an RCD that is tested every 3 months.


  • Check extension leads and appliance cables


Always inspect the cable of any electrical appliance before it is plugged in. This includes extension leads. Do not use if damage is suspected or found. If they are used outside, ensure they are kept dry and clean.


  • Garden lighting


Garden lightings and fittings should be waterproof and installed by a qualified and registered electrician. Make sure that the fittings are kept free of leaves and dirt and check regularly to ensure the cable and connections are not damaged


If in doubt


If you have any doubt over the safety of your garden electrics then switch off immediately and do not use. Consult a qualified and registered electrician as soon as possible.