May 6, 2020

Don’t do it, DIY-guy! Electricity is not a plaything

Don't do it, DIY-guy! Electricity is not a plaything

It is helpful to have someone in the house who is good with their hands – fix door handles, change lightbulbs, stop the taps leaking.

But whatever you do, do not let your resident handyman fix anything more than that bulb. Anything else electrical should be a no-no.

And now that the whole country is in lockdown, the temptation might just be to start fixing everything that has for so long needed fixing. Being at home with nothing to do, that is just what many would want to do – and many do.

That is admirable and useful, says Miranda Moahlodi, senior manager (occupational health and safety) at Eskom, but can be downright dangerous when it comes to fiddling with electricity. Changing a lightbulb is OK.

Just remember that you should always switch off the electricity before attempting any repairs.

Yet it is best to call in a trained electrician – someone who knows what they are doing and will be careful around electricity. In serious cases call Eskom at 08600 37566 or contact your local municipality.

But during this lockdown it might be a good idea to do some basic checking: are all electric cords in good order, are connections between cords and plugs safe and secure, make sure that not too many extension cords are used and too many appliances are plugged in and used at the same time.

In general, look for faulty plugs and switches, old appliances, faulty light fixtures, damaged or exposed wiring.

Be on the lookout for – but do not try to rectify – illegal connections. They are dangerous, says Moahlodi, as they are too often exposed and not properly covered. “Again, call Eskom!”

It is a good time to warn children about the dangers of electricity. And keep in mind: water and electricity do not mix – water can conduct electricity and can cause injury or even death.

“Your in-house DIY-guy must simply be doubly careful. Still, it is much better to call in a trained electrician for anything beyond the most basic repairs,” says Moahlodi.

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