With very limited information it is nearly impossible to pin point the exact reason how this tragic electrocution could have happened but here are some possibilities from the limited information we have and using our experience to determine what could have happened.
Listen to me and Basil Zempilas talk about the tragedy that shocked Perth. I give a few reasons as to what might have caused the terrible accident, in which the Perth girl was electrocuted by garden tap:
1. No Earthing Protection On The Water Tap
Denishar Woods, an 11-year-old girl, was electrocuted at her family home in Perth while trying to turn off a metal tap. One immediate observation I could see from watching the video was that the was no visible main earthing conductor or equipotential bond on the water tap! The Main earth provides a low resistance path back to the circuit protection. Without it, Denishar could have become that path back to the main switchboard. If the resistance was high (which is likely would have been) the circuit protection will not trip and continue to electrocute.
2. Broken or Loose Main Neutral Conductor
I have worked on many situations where the taps become live with the cause being that the main neutral conductor of the incoming main has become loose or disconnected. In this situation, the current tries to find a lower resistance path back to the transformer. Electricity can then run through the MEN, down to earth, through the ground to the nearest power pole earth, to the nearest transformer and then to the neutral.
The problem with this is that our sandy soils have such a high resistance because there is no water that the current stays low and no circuit protection will trip. This emphasises the importance of ensuring you have tight electrical terminations throughout your home or business.
3. RCD & Smoke Alarms Checks Are Not Enough
Rental properties have their RCDs and smoke alarms checked on a regular basis to ensure that the property complies with the Rental Regulations but this service negates real issues in the home such as:
- No main earthing conductor.
- No MEN link.
- No Equipotential Bond (Joining water taps to electrical earth).
- Sub-standard, unsafe electrical wiring.
- Exposed live terminations.
- No heat canister protection for halogen lighting.
- Incorrect switchboard wiring leaving circuits unprotected.
What You Can Do About It
Read our tips on things that you can check yourself to ensure your family's safety at home but without a doubt, the best way to keep your family safe is to get a comprehensive electrical safety inspection. I hope this keeps you and your family safe and we can minimise the likelihood of these tragedies from happening to you and our community.