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At my home

At my home

As Kiwis, we’re great lovers of DIY – but no one loves a DIY disaster.

Make sure you follow our tips to ensure you stay safe around electricity when you're doing work around the house.

If you're outside, remember:

Look Up and Live!

Electricity always seeks the easiest, most direct path to the ground. This means that if something you are carrying comes into contact with overhead power lines, the electricity will pass through that object to you – causing severe burns, serious injury, or in some cases, death.

Perform a simple check around your property to check all power lines are well clear of buildings, structures and trees and that all outside electrical outlets protected by an RCD or an isolating transformer.

If you want to do work on your property, this could put you in danger of making contact with the service line connecting the power lines in the street, to your home (such as painting or switchboard repairs), always organise a safety disconnection first.

Request a Safety Disconnection »

Call Before You Cut!

Did you know electricity can travel through trees?

Trimming or removing trees near power lines creates serious risk of the trees making contact with live power lines – and if you have your chainsaw through the tree at that moment, you’re in serious danger of electrocution or serious injury.

Always call Unison before you work on trees growing within four metres of a power line.

Find out more about managing trees near power lines »

Request a tree management consultation »

Know What's Below!

If you’re planning on digging, staking, fencing or excavating in a grass verge (the area between the road and your property boundary) or near a power pole or power box, always contact us before you start, so we can provide information on the location of any underground power cables.

Hitting underground cables with a spade, waratah or excavator causes serious risk of electrical burns, electric shock or electrocution, and you may be liable for costs associated with repairing the damaged cables.

We offer free cable locations for our underground cables which we own. 

Find out about our cable location service »

Book a cable location »

If you're inside, remember...

Keep your home and family safe by completing an electrical safety check in and around your home twice a year. At the beginning of summer and winter, check each room in your home for electrical safety. Work through the lists below. Invest 10 - 20 minutes of your time now, it may save a life or prevent an accident in the future.

Check Sockets and Switches

  • Are all sockets, switches and multiboxes working properly with no damaged or broken plugs, sockets, light switches or light fittings?
  • Are all sockets and switches cool to the touch?
  • Do all electric plugs fit snugly into the sockets?  
  • Are all multi-boxes placed up high, out of the reach of children?  
  • Have you installed safety devices such as RCDs, shuttered sockets and recessed outlets?  
  • Have you limited the number of appliances plugged into one outlet, so as not to draw too heavy a load on the circuit?
  • Do you have only one heater per outlet?

Check Cords

  • Are all electric cords in good condition, with no cracking or fraying in the outer cover or any internal wires exposed?
  • Are all electric cords clear of rugs and furniture?  
  • Are all extension cords used for temporary purposes only?  
  • If not, ask an electrician to install a socket-outlet where needed.  
  • Are all cords out of the way so they can’t be tripped over, damaged by furniture, or caught in any way?

Check Lighting

  • Do you have the correct bulbs in your light fittings and lamps?

Check Portable Electric Heaters

  • Do you follow the "heater metre rule" with all heaters at least one metre away from things that can burn?
  • Are all heaters in good working condition with no broken parts, funny noises or smells?
  • Have you recently maintained and cleaned your heater?

Check Electric Blankets

  • Are all electric blankets in good condition with no scorch marks, kinks, exposed or damaged wiring?
  • Are your electric blankets stored flat or rolled in corrugated cardboard when not in use?
  • How old are your electric blankets? It’s recommended that you replace your electric blanket after 2 or 3 years of use.
  • Have you had your electric blanket tested recently? Don’t forget that HBPCT subsidises electric blanket testing in Hawke’s Bay – find out more here.

Here's a tip on how to test your blanket at home: turn the blanket on for 15 minutes at the highest setting (don’t leave the room) and then turn it off. Run your hand over the blanket and feel for hot spots. A hot spot indicates that the heating coil has been kinked or damaged, which could lead to fire or electric shock so the blanket should be replaced with a new one.

Check Appliances

  • Do you regularly check and clean the lint from your clothes-dryer filter?  
  • Do you consistently ensure that the stove-top is kept clear of things that could burn - such as paper towels and plastic cords - keeping them at least one metre away from the elements?  
  • Are all small appliances around your home in good condition with no exposed wiring, unusual noises or smells? 
  • Do all your small appliances operate correctly?  
  • Are all small appliances unplugged when not in use? 
  • Are all cords to electric appliances stored out of the way so that a child cannot pull them down onto him or herself?

Check Fuses and Circuit Breakers

  • Can you change a fuse correctly?
  • Are all fuse wires the correct size for the circuits on your switchboard?
  • Is it a rare occurrence for a fuse to blow in your home?

Check Residual Current Devices

  • Do you have RCDs installed in the damp areas of your home where you have electrical outlets - such as the bathroom and laundry?
  • Do you test your RCDs regularly, and are they working correctly? 
  • Do you use an RCD or an isolating transformer with all electrical equipment outside?
Are you medically dependant on electricity?  

Please ensure you have registered yourself as medically dependant with your electricity retailer - their contact number can be found on your power bill. 

In the event of a power outage, activate your back-up plan, or call 111 if you are feeling unwell or have no alternative support plans in place.