Avoid a dangerous shock this Bank Holiday weekend

24 April 2017

Electrical Safety First is advising anyone spending time in their garden this weekend to have RCD (Residual Current Device) protection.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

  • One in 10 people has experienced an electric shock or accident caused while using an electrical appliance in their garden[i]
  • 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 protection[ii]
  • Electrical Safety First research shows that over a quarter of Brits don’t know what an RCD is[iii]

Ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend, Electrical Safety First is reminding gardeners of the importance of using an 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[iv].

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 lawn mowers and hedge trimmers. Despite more than half of people reporting that they use electrical devices in their gardens[v], Electrical Safety First found that over a quarter of Brits had never heard of an RCD[vi]. 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[vii].

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

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[x]. 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[xi].

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 social media.


For more information please contact:

Muireann Kirby T:020 3463 5105 M:07852257017

E: Muireann.kirby@electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

  • Electrical Safety First is the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. We campaign to improve safety regulation and messages, and provide expert information and advice to the public and professionals to help ensure everyone in the UK can use electricity safely. Visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk for more information
  • All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was conducted from 13-18 April 2017 by Censuswide on behalf of Electrical Safety First with a sample of 2,005 adults with a garden.
  • According to Electrical Safely First’s research, the top five gardening accidents are caused by the following:
  1. Electric Lawnmowers
  2. Flower Pots
  3. Electric Hedge Trimmers
  4. Garden gnomes
  5. Secateurs and pruners

*‘Gardens’ includes outdoor spaces such as gardens, patios, balconies or shared outdoor spaces.

5 top tips to help you stay safe in the garden:

  1. Use a Residual Current Device (RCD) with all outdoor electrical equipment. If you don't have one built into your fusebox, you should use a plug-in RCD
  2. Switch off and unplug electrical items before cleaning, adjusting or checking them
  3. Store equipment in a dry, safe place and check that it hasn't been damaged or affected by water before using it
  4. Be aware of where the electrical power cable is at all times
  5. Never use electrical equipment in wet conditions.


[i] 10% of UK adults with gardens have had accidents or shocks using electrical equipment outdoors

[ii] 5.2% of adults with gardens in the UK have received an electric shock by cutting through the cable of an electric lawnmower

[iii] 26.5% of UK adults with gardens didn’t know what an RCD was

[iv] 5.4% have had accidents with electric lawnmowers; 4.2% with electric hedge-trimmers; 4.2% with flowerpots, 3.5% with garden gnomes and 3.1% with secreteurs and pruners

[v] 54% of UK adults owned electrical appliances for use outdoors

[vi] 26.5% of UK adults with gardens didn’t know what an RCD was

[vii] 16.4% said that they knew what an RCD was but they didn’t always use one with electrical equipment outside

[viii] 9.7% reported shocks or accidents caused by outdoor electrical equipment

[ix] 5.2% cut through an electric lawnmower cable; 4% cut through a hedge-trimmer cable; 3.5% received a shock by cutting through another wire (e.g. satellite TV or lighting)

[x] 38.5% said a neat and tidy garden was most important; 31% said it was most important for themselves or their family to enjoy their garden; 12% said safety was most important

[xi] 75% list mowing lawn, hedge-trimming, sowing, planting and weeding as activities in their outdoor space.