Living safely with electricity and gas in your home

Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Matt Wineera, AREINZ
Published on August 5, 2018

Safety with electricity at home.

Here are some handy reminders for improving safety around the home.

Safety in the kitchen

  • Make sure saucepan handles never overhang the edge of the stovetop where they could cause an accident. Also, don’t put them across a hot element.
  • Never cover the pan when you are cooking with oil or frying chips and always watch it until the food is cooked.
  • If a slice of bread gets stuck in your toaster, switch the toaster off and unplug it. Then let it cool down before you try to remove bread, making sure you don’t damage the element. Never use a metal object to take out the bread.
  • Don’t dry tea towels over the stove.
  • The New Zealand Fire Service recommends a suitable fire extinguisher is kept handy in the kitchen in case of an emergency.


Safety in the bedroom

  • When purchasing an electric blanket, always buy new; be wary of second-hand devices.
  • Consider blankets with overheat protection as they are safer.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when using your electric blanket.
  • Tie electric blankets firmly down and never stick pins in them to secure them to the bed.
  • Never use a hot water bottle at the same time as an electric blanket.
  • You should have a blanket serviced if it’s over three years old. If it is damaged, scorched or the connections are loose or worn, get the blanket checked immediately.
  • When storing your electric blanket, roll or fold it with as few creases as possible and store it away from other bedding.
  • Never smoke in bed.


Safety in the bathroom

  • The combination of water and electrical appliances makes taking safety precautions in and around the bathroom incredibly important.
  • Electric socket outlets are permitted to be installed in bathrooms providing they are the RCCD type. You must still be particularly safety conscious when using these because of water and condensation.
  • Never use portable appliances in the bathroom, even if you plug them in outside.
  • Fixed appliances, such as heaters, towel rails and mirror lights, must be firmly attached to the wall. They can be located above a bath or near the shower provided they have been installed with permanent wiring and the correct RCCD type socket protection, by a registered electrician.
  • We strongly recommend using a qualified registered electrician for all electrical work in the bathroom.


Outdoor safety

  • If you don’t have an external socket, the simplest way to plug in equipment you’re using outside is to put an extension cable through the door or window and plug this into a socket that is protected by an RCCD inside the house. Make sure the doors or windows don’t jam the cord.
  • Beware of trailing cords; make sure you keep the cord away from any appliance you’re using, where there’s no chance of cutting through it.
  • If you do cut the cord, keep everyone well away from the equipment and the cord. Pull the plug out from the mains socket before you touch the cord – even if you’ve fitted the necessary safety devices.
  • Where possible use the correct length extension cord you have available. A long cord can reduce the supply of electricity to an appliance or tool.
  • Beware of ladders with aluminium parts – if they come into contact with power lines they will act as conductors of electricity. Remember it’s safer and easier to carry your ladder horizontally when moving around.
  • Whether you are cleaning out gutters or painting, always be careful when working on your roof. Look up to check the location of overhead wiring in relation to where you are working.
  • Check before you dig! Before you begin any property maintenance or excavation work make sure you identify any underground wires or services. Your network company should be able to assist with telling you the position of gas, electricity and water supplies on your property.
  • Kite flying or playing near power lines can be fatal – if a kite gets caught in the power lines never attempt to retrieve it.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that trees on your property do not interfere with power lines. Never attempt to remove tree or debris yourself, hire a tree clearing expert or contact your network company.

Safety with gas at home

Gas is an instant, reliable, efficient and safe form of energy.

However, like any form of energy, it must be treated with respect to prevent accidents. To help ensure you get the most out of your gas supply we have included some safety information below.

Maintain Regularly

Consumers and homeowners, including landlords and tenants, are responsible for ensuring the safe operation and maintenance of their gas appliances and equipment. To ensure the safety and efficiency of your gas appliance get it checked regularly, preferably by an authorised and competent person:

  • Gas appliances need regular servicing. Check your manual or contact the appliance retailer to find out how often the appliance should be serviced.
  • It is strongly recommended that all gas appliances are serviced annually in particular space heating appliances.
  • Whenever a registered gas worker is working in your home, get them to check your gas appliances and installations are safe. (Note: your plumber may also be a registered gasfitter and will be able to carry out these checks).


How to tell if there is a gas leak

In New Zealand natural gas and bottled gas are odourised to make them easily detectable in the event of a leak. In extremely rare cases however, this ‘rotten egg’ like smell may be reduced, or may not be noticeable at all. The level of odourisation is regularly monitored by the network companies. If at any stage it is found that the smell is significantly reduced or not noticeable, we will notify you as soon as we are aware of this.

What to do in a Gas Emergency

If you suspect your gas appliances are faulty or leaking (even though you may not be able to smell gas), immediately turn off your gas supply at the meter or gas bottles and contact a registered Gas Fitter (who can be easily found in the Yellow Pages under “Gas Fitter”).

  • To turn off your metered gas supply, turn the valve handle to Horizontal (level with the ground). You may need a spanner to do this
  • To turn off your LPG gas bottle supply, turn the valve clockwise until it closes completely.
  • If the smell is coming from or around your gas meter or bottles, turn them off immediately and call Genesis Energy on 0800 300 400 and press option 1. Remember call us from a neighbouring property if possible as your property may be unsafe to remain in.

Some things to do whenever you smell gas

  • Check your gas appliances are turned off.
  • Extinguish all naked flames – cigarettes, open fires, matches or lighters.
  • Do not turn any electrical appliances or switches off or on. This includes mobile phones.
  • Contact us on 0800 300 400 and press option 1.
  • If the smell is in the house and it is safe to do so, open all the doors and windows to ventilate the area.
  • Do not turn your gas supply or appliances on again until a registered Gas Fitter has visited your property and ensured it is safe.

Article courtesy Genesis Energy

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