Gardeners urged to use electrical safety device

Wed 26 Apr, 2017

One in ten gardeners have experienced an electric shock or accident caused while using an electrical appliance, research has revealed.

The top cause is cutting through the cable of a lawnmower - something that can cause a severe electric shock or even kill if there is no RCD (residual current device) protection.

Ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend, the charity Electrical Safety First is reminding gardeners of the importance of using an RCD. Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is supporting its campaign.

Electrical Safety First's research has revealed that most accidents in British gardens or on patios, balconies or shared outdoor spaces were caused by electric lawnmowers, with flower pots, electric trimmers, pruners and even the innocent garden gnome among the other causes.

The main reasons for electric shock included cutting through a cable, cutting through a wire or using electrical equipment in wet conditions.

Electrical Safety First’s Emma Drackford said: “An incredibly high number of people are using electrical equipment in the garden and having accidents outdoors. It’s more important than ever that anyone using mains voltage appliances outdoors uses an RCD. 

“Lots of people will be taking advantage of garden centre sales ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend to spruce up their gardens. A plug-in RCD can cost as little as £10. A fixed RCD will cost more, but will provide a greater degree of protection to help keep your family safe. We recommend that anyone using electrical appliances outdoors owns an RCD. Not using one could cost you your life”.

It’s not just green-fingered gardeners who need to be aware of RCDs. As gardens become an additional living space, more people are using electrical equipment outside.

Almost one in 10 people with gardens said that they used mains-powered entertainment systems such as speakers outside. One in seven have outdoor lighting in their gardens, while one in 40 have a Jacuzzi, hot tub or heated pool in the garden. With any of these electrical items, a working RCD could prevent a fatal accident.

Top tips to help you stay safe in the garden

  • Use a residual current device (RCD) with all outdoor electrical equipment. It is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire.
  • Switch off and unplug electrical items before cleaning, adjusting or checking them.
  • Store equipment in a dry, safe place and check that it hasn't been damaged or affected by water before using it.
  • Be aware of where the electrical power cable is at all times.
  • Never use electrical equipment in wet conditions.