Safety switches work by monitoring the flow of electricity through a circuit and detecting problems as soon as the current leaves the circuit. If a problem is detected a safety switch will shut off the electricity in 0.03 seconds – quick enough to save a life or prevent costly damage.
In Victoria it is mandatory to install safety switches in new premises and premises where major renovations occur. There are three types of safety switches available:
- Switchboard mounted safety switches provide efficient protection for your entire home. They are installed by registered electricians in the same location as your meters and circuit breakers or fuses.
- Power outlet safety switches are designed to protect a single circuit in a particular part of your home. For maximum protection, a power outlet safety switch must be installed by a registered electrician on the first power point of each circuit after the switchboard.
- Plug-in safety switches are portable so they can be used outside or in areas where electricity is not usually used. They plug directly into a power outlet, providing protection at a power extension and they only protect the appliance plugged into them. Portable safety switches are available from major hardware stores.
The Energy Safe Victoria website provides more information on safety switches.
Make sure your electric appliances are in good working order. If an electrical appliance is continually tripping a safety switch, it’s time to replace the appliance.
If you feel a shock or a tingle from an electrical appliance, you should turn it off immediately and have it fixed by a registered electrical tradesperson. This is the same for the cords on your appliances – if they are frayed or damaged, you either need to replace the appliance or make sure it’s fixed by a qualified repairer.
If you feel any shock or tingling when touching a metal surface such as a sink, make sure you call us straight away on 132 099. It could mean you have an earthing issue at your home that needs to be fixed immediately. We will be able to advise you on what to do.
Other simple safety measures to be aware of include:
- Use child-safe plugs on powerpoints.
- Turn off a toaster at the powerpoint before trying to remove stuck toast.
- Never touch electric appliances or switches with wet hands or feet.
- Avoid using adaptors and powerboards for more appliances than they are designed to support.
- Place extension leads along a wall – never under a rug where they can build up heat.
- Turn powerpoints off before inserting or removing a plug.
- Check electric blanket cords and don’t piggyback them on power boards.
- When storing electric blankets, roll instead of folding – folding can damage the heating element.
- Don’t dry your clothes on an electric heater – water and electricity don’t mix!
- Don’t leave electric heaters in places where they can be knocked over.
- Make sure heaters are turned off before you go to bed or when you leave a room.
Look Up and Live
Always be aware of powerlines – whether that is when you’re flying kites and model planes, raising caravan antennas, using ladders or even if you work with machinery such as tip trucks, high vehicles, or cranes. You need to remember to 'Look Up and Live'. Be aware that powerlines may be above you and pose a risk to you and others nearby.
Some recreational activities can also be hazardous if you’re not aware that powerlines are above you. For example, you may want to raise a mast on a boat – if the mast makes contact with a powerline, it could be deadly.
So, whatever you’re doing, please take a moment to look up first and be cautious around power lines. For more information view relevant documents and resources below.
Dial Before You Dig
A quick call to Dial Before You Dig before you start work could save your life and protect our network.
We’re a member of the Association of Dial Before You Dig Services, a non-profit body dedicated to looking after Australia’s underground infrastructure.
If you’re planning to dig around your home for your garden, fences or even a pool, then you first need to know if there are electricity cables or other network assets beneath you. Before you start work, visit the Dial Before You Dig website to apply for approval online.
Your request will be sent to United Energy and we’ll respond within two days with plans and information about the location of our underground cables in the network.
Documents and resources
Look Up And Live factsheet
Safety around powerlines factsheet and advice
No Go Zones factsheet
Minimum safety requirements that are dependent on the distance between overhead powerlines and the work being performed.
Electrical safety on farms factsheet
Advice for working safely around powerlines on farms