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building an electrically safe household

UNFORTUNATELY, most of us are generally unaware of the proper use of electricity and invariably, every one of us has at one point of time or other experienced an electric shock. We also frequently get to read news of 'electrocution' and 'fire due to short circuit' in the newspapers. Most of these events are preventable by proper installation and usage of electric safety devices.
I am sure that the modern homeowners who are willing to spend lakhs of taka on making their home beautiful and aesthetic, would not hesitate to spend some amount on protecting the home and themselves from the hazards of electricity. The major hazards of electricity are electric shocks (which could be fatal) and fires.
Electricity has been found to be one major cause of accidents occurring at home and these accidents mainly happen due to:
1. Faulty Installations: With the increased popularity of apartments, the onus of providing good electrical installation squarely lies on the builder. Unfortunately, in the name of competition, many builders do sacrifice the quality of electrical installation just because it is not visible to prospective customers since these things are hidden from view. However, as a discerning customer, you must ask and inspect the quality of electrical items like circuit breakers, wires, distribution boards, workmanship at the time of finalizing your dream home.
2. Substandard Quality of equipment/appliances: Again, with the invasion of Chinese made lookalikes of popular brands, there is a surfeit of poor quality material in the market and electrical items seem to be worst hit - hence you must insist on buying from the authorized dealers/distributors only and must inquire from the builder in case of a new apartment purchase.

3. Drawing more load than the sanctioned load: The responsibility for this lies entirely on the homeowner. With the increasing popularity of appliances like Air conditioners, Microwave ovens, Refrigerators, Geysers etc., there is an ever-growing load on the electrical system. However, like any other equipment, electrical systems do have their limits of operations and loading them beyond their capacity can lead to wire burnouts, damage to equipment etc. In case you wish to install heavy loads like air conditioners, geysers etc., please ensure that your wiring and circuit breakers are designed to withstand increased 'burden'.
4. Ignorance regarding proper usage of electricity: Ignorance is also a major cause of accident while using electricity. For example, many times, women work on washing machines with wet hands and no slippers on feet thereby exposing themselves to the risk of electric shock. Similarly, geysers are often located inside the bathroom itself and exposed to moisture which could be a cause of electric shock. Use of poor quality switches also leads to their overheating and could be a source of shock to users.
The world over, homeowners use the following devices for additional safety from the risks of using electricity:
1. Miniature Circuit Breakers/ Moulded Case Circuit Breakers (MCB/MCCB): Protect your home from excessive loads and short circuits
2. Residual Current Circuit Breakers (RCCBs): Protect you from electric shocks and electrocution, and electric fires due to leakage currents
3. Fire Retardant Wires: Help in preventing fires from spreading through the wires running inside the walls.
4. Shielded plugs and sockets: help in avoiding accidental touch with live wires.
These four product categories represent the 'basic' level of protection, which must be built into every modern home to ensure adequate safety from electricity usage.
However in Bangladesh, though the first category of products (MCB/MCCB) has become a part of most homes, the latter three products still have to catch on. People are still ignorant about these products and hence do not use them as much.
MCB/MCCB do play a significant part in the protection of equipment and installation, but the risk of electric shock (and electrocution) and fire can only be minimized by using RCCBs and fire-retardant wires.
Shielded plugs/sockets prevent access to live parts and hence avoid the accidental touching of 'live' wires.
It is strongly recommended that when homeowners are spending lakhs of taka on aesthetics of their homes, they also spend some money on protecting it and themselves adequately. After all, your home should remain what it should be:
HOME SWEET HOME. For any further queries/questions, please email at: dineshpahuja@havells.com

By Dinesh Pahuja


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