Shocking statistics on electrical safety in the garden

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Ahead of the May bank holiday weekend, Electrical Safety First is reminding gardeners of the importance of using a Residual Current Device (RCD) outside. Research undertaken by the charity shows that one in 10 people in the UK have experienced an electric shock or accident while using an electrical appliance in the garden.

Most accidents in British gardens are caused by electric lawnmowers; with flower pots, electric trimmers, pruners and even the innocent garden gnome making up the top causes of accidents in the garden.

While there are lots of ways to stay safe in the garden, an RCD is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. RCD protection can be built into your fuse box or sockets. If you do not have built in protection, a plug-in RCD should be used with any kind of electrical equipment such as lawnmowers and hedge trimmers. Despite more than half of people reporting that they use electrical devices in their gardens, Electrical Safety First found that over a quarter of Brits had never heard of an RCD. Of those who had heard of an RCD, one in six said that they didn’t always use an RCD when using electrical equipment outside.

It is unsurprising then, that so many people have experienced electric shock or accident caused whilst using an electrical appliance in their garden. The main reasons for electric shock included cutting through a cable, cutting through a wire, or using electrical equipment in wet conditions.

Keeping up appearances is very important for people in the UK; according to the research a neat and tidy garden is most important to British people, which rated higher than a garden being a place to enjoy, or a safe place. Three times more Brits viewed neatness and tidiness as most important in the garden, with just one in eight saying safety in the garden was their top priority. Three quarters of people living in the UK maintain their outdoor space by mowing the lawn, trimming hedges and general gardening.

However, it is 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 ten people with gardens said that they used mains-powered entertainment systems, like speakers, outside. One in seven Brits have outdoor lighting in their gardens; while one in forty 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.

Emma Drackford, Director of Communications at Electrical Safety First commented: “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.”

For advice and tips on staying safe in the garden, visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/gardening or search #gnomesafe on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.