Electricity safety tips

What is Eskom Public Safety and why is it important to Eskom?

Every year, innocent lives are lost and people are seriously injured as a consequence of the unsafe use of electricity. Some of the biggest contributors to these electricity-related incidents are:  contacts with low-hanging electrical cables and fallen power lines, illegal connections, vandalism, cable theft, substandard wiring, etc.

One of Eskom’s biggest priorities is to educate the public about the dangers associated with the unsafe use of electricity. By always shining the spotlight on these incidents and warning the public, Eskom aims to reduce the number of injuries and deaths , in support of their ‘Zero Harm’ policy.

For more tips and advice on the safe use of electricity and electrical equipment, follow this link:

Public safety video clips

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Eskom Public Safety:  Youth

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Eskom Public Safety

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Exposed Cables

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Illegal Connections

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Vandalised equipment

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Exterior overload

Sub-standard wiring

Sub-standard wiring means wiring that is poor quality – making it unsafe for people and animals around it, especially when it is within reach. In many cases the insulation (material that prevents people from making contact with the electricity) is either not done or done poorly using incorrect materials, such as masking tape, which does not insulate properly and becomes brittle quickly. If a person or animal touches any exposed electrical wiring or cabling, they could suffer a serious or even fatal injury.

Substandard insulation can also cause wires running along metal roofs to make the entire roof, or the wires holding the roof or even the entire structure of the house, to become live, and hence poses a threat of injury or death to anyone who makes contact with the live structure.

Electrical wires can also become highly dangerous when they are run through doors and windows. The wires/cables will get damaged and expose anyone who touches the window or door to an electrical shock which could kill them. Also all three wires (live, neutral and earth) should be used at all times. 

Safety tips

  • Always get your local qualified electrician to do any electrical repairs, for example if your lights are not working while you have supply on your meter box.
  • Always check the state of your electrical cables. If they are damaged, cut or broken you must have them fixed by a trained electrician.
  • Never run any wires through doors and windows.
  • Don’t run extensions to other buildings.
  • Don’t connect a neighbour through your personal meter or electricity distribution board.
What does it look like?
Image of Sub Standard Wiring

Overloading plugs

Overloading plugs:  When you have limited plug points and connect multiple appliances – like your TV, kettle and stove – to one plug, you are overloading the plug, which is highly dangerous. The single plug has a limited power supply and will have to supply more current than it is rated for to run all the appliances plugged in to it. When this happens, your power supply could be cut. Also, when the appliances run for a long time on the single socket, they can overheat and cause a fire or shock anyone who touches them.
To be safe from any danger, use a multi-plug adaptor but do not use all the appliances at the same time. The safest solution is to get your local trained electrician to install more plug points in your home. 

Safety tips

  • Never use an extension cord while it is twisted (coiled) as it can overheat and cause a fire. 
  • Never pull a plug out by the cord as it can damage it or expose wires, which can be dangerous. Pull it out by gripping the plug itself and make sure the power is switched off first.
  • Never connect multiple appliances to a single plug point
  • Never put electrical wires directly into a wall plug socket as this can shock you.
  • Only use SABS approved plugs, extension leads and multi-plugs.
  • Switch off at the wall socket, before pulling the plug out.
  • Do not stick fingers into plug sockets.
  • If there are babies in the house, ensure that wall sockets are covered with a safety cap, keeping the area safe for babies to play in.
What does it look like?
Image of Overloaded Plugs

Repurposing of appliances

Repurposing of appliances is when an appliance that is meant for one use is changed to perform an alternative task. An example of this is when a gas and primus stove is changed to be powered by electricity. These stoves don’t have the correct electrical parts and the wires are exposed, amongst other dangers.

This is very dangerous as the appliances have no safety features and a person can be injured or killed if they touch the stove. Without the insulation (lining) which helps keep you protected from live electricity, these appliances are a danger to your safety. The risk of fire is also high when you use these appliances in your home.

Safety tips

  • Only use appliances as they were meant to be used or purchase the correct appliance for a new purpose if you need to.
What does it look like?
Image of Repurposed device

Illegal connections

Illegal connections: An electricity connection is considered illegal when it is made to the Eskom network without Eskom’s permission. Examples are connecting to a mini-substation or overhead pole. Doing this poses great risk as it overloads the system, which often causes the power connection to trip or fail, meaning no one in the area would have electricity. It can also cause a fire.

Another problem with illegal connections is that when Eskom does electricity connections in your community, they look at how much electricity is needed by the number of homes and a certain number of people per home in the area. When you connect illegally, you draw from the same equipment which was meant for a certain number of households, resulting in the equipment being overloaded and the system failing/tripping.

Illegal connections can also cause electrocution because such connections are usually unsafely constructed and don’t have the required electrical protection.

Too often, innocent people lose their lives due to illegal connections.  The saddest and most concerning part for Eskom is that it is often children who are electrocuted when they unwittingly touch carelessly laid (and totally unsafe) cables left by those who steal electricity.

Illegal connections are not safe as they are usually done by unqualified people who not only risk electrocuting themselves, but also expose other people to danger and the risk of injury and death if they make contact with the connection. Not only is this dangerous for the individual making the connection, but it also puts the rest of the community at risk because these connections lie across pathways and walkways where anyone passing by can easily be electrocuted.  An additional risk is that illegally connected wires can also make contact with other items such as roofs, gutters, and washing lines, making these items live and able to conduct electricity.

Safety tips

  • Avoid connecting electricity illegally. Only authorised Eskom personnel or qualified electricians may connect electricity and with permission from Eskom.
  • If you come across any illegal connections, report them to Eskom on 0800 11 27 22 (ESKOM)
  • Educate your children about illegal connections.
What does it look like?
Image of Illegal Connections

Exposed cables

Exposed cables: It is unsafe to place/run electrical cables and extension cords on the floor or under carpets. Electrical cables are supposed to be out of reach of people or animals as constant contact with them will make them a fire threat and cause harm to people who might trip over them. If you have cables running on the ground, get your local qualified electrician who uses the correct tools to make sure all your electricity cords are secure and safe.

Running cables under carpets is also dangerous as you are not able to see if the cord is damaged. Should the cord be damaged, it could create a fire as carpets are made of materials which could easily catch fire

Safety tips

  • Get your local qualified electrician to install a plug point closer to the appliance so there isn’t a need for an extension cord.
  • If you have a need for an extension cord before the electrician comes to install a plug point, don’t run it under carpets. Rather run the cabling over the carpet (and preferably along a wall) and secure it with tape to prevent tripping.
  • Keep cords away from hot stoves and other hot surfaces.
What does it look like?
Image of Exposed Cables

Low-hanging cables

Low-hanging cables: Overhead power cables are normally suspended out of reach of people but when the poles collapse or fall over, the line can touch the ground or hang close to the ground, putting people and animals in danger. Sometimes cables hang low as a result of fire, wind, rain, lightning or even someone driving into the pole.  

Remember that although the pole has fallen over, it is very likely that the cables are still live so they must never be touched. Do not try to move the cable – rather avoid any cable when it is hanging low or touching the ground. These cables are dangerous and can shock or electrocute anyone that makes contact with them.

Safety tips

  • Never touch a low hanging cable or a pole that has fallen over.
  • Do not carry long objects such as pipes, ladders, and scaffolding under power lines. Do not use tipper trucks or cranes near powerlines.
  • Never touch a low hanging cable or a pole that has fallen over.
  • Warn others about these cables and report them to Eskom immediately on 08600 37566 (ESKOM).
  • Educate your children about this as well.

What does it look like?

Image of Low hanging Cables

Meter tampering

Meter tampering: An electricity meter is used to measure the amount of electricity supplied to a residential or commercial building. Meter tampering or bypassing is when you make the meter to either stop functioning, under-register or even stop registering how much electricity your house/building consumes. This is usually done by people to avoid paying for the electricity that they use. This is theft and is very dangerous because the risk of injury or even death by electrocution while doing it is high, as tamperers do not apply the same safety measures that Eskom does. Once a meter is bypassed it immediately stops operating normally, meaning that if there is an electrical fault inside your premises it will not be picked up and the electricity supply will stay on without tripping. This is a serious safety hazard to people and animals in the building, and can result in electrocution or fire.

Safety tips

  • Never tamper with any Eskom equipment as only authorised Eskom personnel may do so.
  • If you see/know of any instances of meter tampering, report them to Eskom immediately on 08600 37566 (ESKOM).
  • Educate your children about this as well
What does it look like?
Image of meter Tampering

Transformer oil theft

Transformer oil theft: People often steal oil from transformers at substations or on the network, which they use to fuel cars or other equipment. Some people even use this transformer oil for cooking, which is a serious health risk as it is a fuel oil and not a cooking oil.  They break open the transformer – which is an act of vandalism – before using a tool such as a hosepipe to draw the oil. This is illegal and will get you into trouble when you are caught. It also damages the equipment because when the oil is drained from the transformer, it will break down as it cannot function without the oil. Because of this, the area which the sub-station supplies electricity to, will be without power. This also results in a risk of electrocution to the person performing the theft and to passers-by, since live electrical equipment is now exposed.

Safety tips

  • Stay away from sub-stations and report any vandalism that you may know of to Eskom immediately on 08600 35766 (ESKOM).
  • Educate your children about this as well.
What does it look like?
Image of Transformer oil Theft