Electrical accidents in Australian homes cause 15 deaths and over 300 injuries every year. Most of these accidents can be avoided by installing safety switches. Although it is now law for new properties to be fitted with safety switches, there are many Australian homes that don’t yet have them.
Safety switches are often confused with circuit breakers and fuses, but they actually perform a different task. Fuses and circuit breakers protect against short circuits and current overloads, whereas only safety switches can protect people from electric shock.
What is a safety switch?
Safety switches monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit and turn off the power in a fraction of a second if a leakage of current is detected. Safety switches provide personal protection against electric shock – these simple and inexpensive devices can save lives.
The are three main types of safety switches:
- switchboard safety switches
- power point safety switches
- portable safety switches
How many safety switches do you need?
At the very least, your home should have safety switches installed on all the main power circuits. For optimal safety, they should be fitted to any area that has a circuit point within your home. This includes circuits that control hot water, air conditioning, stoves and lighting. A good electrician will advise you on where you need to install safety switches.
Test your switches
You need to test your safety switches every 3 months, to check that they are working properly.
What you need to do:
- Let everyone know you are about to test your safety switches, especially if they’re using a computer or recording something on TV – the testing process will cut power to those circuits connected to the safety switch.
- At the switchboard, press the T’ or ‘Test’ button located on the safety switch. If it flicks off and cuts the power, it is working. Check to see which lights or appliances are now off – these are protected by the safety switch. If it has not cut the power to the connected circuit, then you are no longer protected and should talk to a licensed electrician as soon as you can.
- After testing, turn the safety switch back on. Depending on the safety switch type, push it back upwards or twist it into the ‘on’ position. For circuits with a refrigerator or air conditioner, wait for two to three minutes before resetting to avoid possible appliance damage.
For more information, see Worksafe QLD.
We can install or update your safety switches
Our residential and commercial electricians can make sure that your home or workplace is as safe as possible by installing or updating your safety switches. Contact us on 3712 0653 to find out more.