06 Apr 2015

How to avoid explosions and be safe

  • Written by 
Bad plug Bad plug Phil Rhodes/RedShark

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Here's another chance to read this article. We assume an awful lot about the safety of the equipment we buy. With online sales, many of us are turning into personal importers, making us responsible for checking the safety of our products. Read this. It could save your or someone else's life!

 Owning equipment is often a thankless task. Quite apart from the cost, the incessant obsolescence, and the harsh reality of storing flight cases under the bed, there's also the vexed question of exactly which investments will repay themselves most effectively, how one's clients will react to particular pieces of equipment and, of course, the issue of avoiding violent explosions. This, although we're not intending to turn Red Shark into one of those scary public information films with the screaming schoolgirl and the screech of tyres, is a safety announcement.

Electrical safety is something that's become more of an issue with the advent of globalisation, internet ordering, and the mass import of goods by private individuals. It's difficult – in fact it's impossible – to inspect every package that an internet vendor dispatches from some far-flung corner of the globe, and the results are, well, situations such as this:

Our American cousins will chortle at the idea of a range of standards called BS, but this is an exceptionally bad attempt at a UK mains connector built – or rather not built - to British Standard 1363. We'll take this as an example, although badly-made and dubiously safe copies of Schuko, Edison and other connectors are also common. This is a particularly apt example, since properly-made BS1363 connectors are, if you'll forgive a bit of flag-waving, among the safest in the world. The standard specifies internal fusing, shuttered sockets, shrouded live and neutral pins, a mandatory earth pin (which may legitimately be plastic in limited cases), and a big, chunky design. They border on the indestructible and frustrate many people, your narrator included, who've attempted to mate travel adaptors to comparatively lightweight wall sockets in the USA. That's before we've even started talking about what happens when they're left on the floor, pins upright, to trap an unwary bare foot.

And this is a properly-made one.

 

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Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes is a Cinematographer, Technologist, Writer and above all Communicator. Never afraid to speak his mind, and always worth listening to, he's a frequent contributor to RedShark.

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