When it comes to electrical appliances, we all want to be assured that we are safe from electric shocks. While appliances are stringently tested to be safe, sometimes the hazard can come from other parts of your house, which is why it is vital to install safety switches in your home.
What is a safety switch?
These devices are designed to quickly shut off the power if an electrical fault is detected, protecting you from a shock, which can lead to injury or even death.
They are also extremely useful devices even when you are not at home, protecting your property from fires caused by electrical faults.
Any home constructed after 1991 is required to have safety switches installed as standard. Homes that have had circuits added or changed are also required to have had switches installed by law.
However, homes built before 1992 may not have switches, which means your electrical switches and appliances could become a hazard if there is an electricity leak somewhere in your home.
Why you should install safety switches in all homes
While it is the law to have safety switches in newly built homes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are totally protected. In many homes, these are only installed to the power circuit. This means other sub-circuits like your air-conditioning or lighting may not have switches installed.
Always consult an electrician to inspect your property and ensure that safety switches are installed on all circuits for maximum protection.
The difference between safety switches and circuit breakers
Many people don’t know the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers, and the two devices are commonly confused.
Circuit breakers (more often referred to as a fuse) are also designed to cut power to your home when they detect high current faults, short circuits or overloads to prevent you from coming to harm.
The main difference between the two devices is what they protect. While a circuit breaker will shut off the electricity and can potentially shield you from harm, their primary purpose is to protect the circuits and wiring in your home.
A switch is specifically designed to protect humans and will shut off the power at an extremely rapid rate (usually less than 0.03 seconds which is quicker than a heartbeat).
They are also designed to detect when there are imbalances in the live and neutral wire which can happen when current is travelling through a person.
Ensure you get your safety switches tested regularly
Even if you think your home is already totally protected, it is important to never risk the safety of yourself or your family.
Each safety switch in your power box should come with a test button which will cut the power the same way a power imbalance would. You can reset the switch afterwards by clicking it back to the on position. If your switch does not cut the power or it does not reset back to the on position, contact a licenced electrician.