Always Switch Sockets off Before Plugging in


Oh, and make sure your stuff is on a surge protector.

Normally I’m a stickler when it comes to electrical safety, probably because my Granddad was an electrician and taught me about it. The other night though, in a lapse of consciousness, I plugged my laptop’s charger into a power strip that was still switched on at the mains. Or, should I say, started to plug in the charger because as the plug went in, the air between it and the power strip ignited in a decent explosion.

The boom was loud enough to leave a ringing in my ears and it sent out a perceptible air wave from the socket too. Fortunately the power strip doubled as a surge protector and it did its job in protecting the desktop computer and monitor that were also plugged in at the time. The damage to the laptop charger’s plug was pretty interesting though. Aside from being charred, the neutral pin has deformed slightly as has the live pin, although to a lesser extent. The ground pin looks perfectly fine.

Amazingly, the laptop’s power brick still works but I haven’t tested—and don’t want to test—the actual plug. Thanks to the surge protector, the only costs were for a new fuse and a new power cable but I’d hate to think what would’ve happened without the surge protector. Lesson learnt though, always switch sockets off before plugging in.