Keeping safe at home

6. Electricity, heating and water

Electricity

  • Don’t use appliances that have worn or damaged flexes, and never put more than one appliance on one plug.
  • If you have lots of appliances and only one socket, use a strip extension lead (a long one with a line of sockets on it) instead of lots of adaptors.
  • It’s safer to turn appliances off at the plug before you go to bed. There are timers for plugs available so that you don’t have to remember to do this. You can also use timers on lights in hallways, for example, so that you can get to bed safely.
  • If you are worried about forgetting to turn off appliances, consider buying electrical appliances such as an electric kettle. They switch off automatically and will help you to stay independent and safe.

Heating

  • If you have a gas or electric fire, make sure it is serviced regularly. For portable gas or electric heaters, think about fitting an extra guard, and keep them at a safe distance from furniture and curtains.
  • If you or your carer have additional concerns about using gas or electrical appliances correctly, contact the gas or electricity company. You can ask them to put you on the priority service register. This means you will be eligible for free regular safety checks, and will also be able to receive advice about safety measures.

If you smell gas

  • Turn the gas off at the meter.
  • Open doors and windows.
  • Call the gas emergency service on 0800 111 999.
  • Don’t turn electric switches on or off.
  • Don’t use naked flames.
  • Don’t smoke.

Open fires can be dangerous. Never use one without a fire-guard, and make sure your chimney is swept at least once a year. If you have other ways of keeping warm, try to limit how often you use an open fire.

Never air or dry clothes near a fire, even if it is well guarded. Use electric blankets correctly, and have them checked regularly.

Water

If you find you are forgetting to turn taps off, it is possible to fit taps will stop automatically. For example, some taps will only work if you run your hands under them. Others turn off automatically after a set amount of water has flowed, or after a set time. Your local water company should be able to provide a catalogue of suitable taps. Sensors can also be fitted on skirting boards or floors in the kitchen or bathroom. If taps have been left running and cause a flood, the system will shut off the water and raise the alarm.

Bathrooms

  • Never take portable heaters into the bathroom.
  • Non-slip mats fitted in the bath can help to prevent accidents.
  • If the water gets very hot, it may be possible to adjust the temperature on the boiler.
  • When running a bath, put the cold water in first and then the hot water. This reduces the risk of being scolded.
  • If you live alone, never lock the bathroom door.
  • If you have a walk-in shower, consider using a plastic garden chair with a non-slip mat underneath. Or ask someone to fit a drop-down seat to the wall.
  • Dangerous substances, including medicines, should always be stored somewhere safe.