The human body, an intricate system of resistors and capacitors, can withstand up to 30 mA of voltage surge, where it can cause the person moderate discomfort as a worst-case scenario.
By Saurabh Goel
Electrical wiring, while inconspicuous, can cause life-threating injuries if they are sub-standard and faulty. We often fail to realize the potential danger lurking in our legacy building circuit infrastructure. Elements such as old plugs, poorly insulated power tools, damaged cord sets, etc. can lead to major electrical hazards and accidents. Given the high ratio of poor wiring equipment, combined with low consumer awareness on installing industry certified, advanced products – is it really a wonder that more than 70% of homes in India are considered electrically unsafe?
The human body, an intricate system of resistors and capacitors, can withstand up to 30 mA of voltage surge, where it can cause the person moderate discomfort as a worst-case scenario. The chances of threats widen if the voltage grades are higher – from heart and lungs contraction, tissue burning, paralysis to a cardiac arrest. Given the current landscape of rampant electrical accidents across many pockets of India, it is necessary to adopt an aware and responsible attitude, because I firmly believe safety is the key refrain when it comes to household electrics.
Here are some of the best practices to follow and protect your home against electrical hazards.
Go for proven, industry-benchmarked expertise
Power sockets account for most of the cases that have led to electrocutions at households. Did you know that when a wall socket breaks and come loose, just brushing against a live pin or wire can send an electric shock coursing through the body? Young children, often unaware of hidden dangers, can fall prey to this with inadvertent handling. It is advised to always go for branded, proven and certified products such as Residual Current Circuit Breakers and ensure that sockets are protected by this technology. A life saving device, it detects any leakage in circuit and disconnects immediately. Besides, it is also imperative to choose shuttered sockets and have them securely screwed in to flush boxes sealed in to the walls.
Modernize wiring in buildings
In consumer units installed before 2000, the only safety devices are circuit breaker, or fuses if the units even older). While they prevent fires caused by short-circuit or cable overloads, they don’t protect people from electric shocks. Therefore, old buildings should have periodic installation checkups done on parameters such as insulation level of cable, healthiness of earthing/grounding terminals. In fact, certain wiring regulations make it compulsory to install 30mA rated RCCB on circuits supplying all power sockets and devices in bathrooms and other wet locations.
Grounding for domestic appliances
If an internal wire breaks or loses just a scrap of its insulation sheath, it energizes the metal housing. This applies to any equipment such as refrigerators, washing machines etc. that we operate daily. The slightest touch can result in a nasty shock or disaster. Any appliances with metal housing must be grounded by green-yellow wires all connected as well as ground pin in plug and sockets. Grounding ensures that a protective device trips as soon as a live electrical part touches a metal housing. Stationary equipment such as kitchen appliances, water heaters, AC units should be firmly connected to the green–yellow wire of the electrical network.
Avoid circuit overload with smarter distribution
Power boards, when overloaded with heavy consumption, can cause frequent tripping of circuit breakers. While plugged in, appliances draw power even when they are not connected. Always remove devices that are not in use and spread out electrical needs to avoid overburdening a single circuit.
Safe distance between electrical sockets
One of the most dangerous scenarios can occur, when water meets electricity and hence it is extremely important to keep the electrical equipment in the washroom such as lights situated close to the jacuzzi, bathtub, and shower under proper Ingress Protection (IP). Apart from that, one must also ensure that a proper distance is maintained between any electrical appliances and objects such as the shower present in the washroom.
With newer innovations coming up, electrical devices will continue to play an important role in our lives. This increases the chances of electrical hazards such as short circuits, electrocution, etc. to occur endangering customers. However, ensuring proper and pre-emptive safety measures is necessary to safeguard our own lives and that of our loved ones.
(The author is the president of Havells India. Views expressed are personal.)