DIY SOS star 'Billy' helps keep DIY enthusiasts safe

Tue, September 1st, 2020

TV electrician helps to share SP Energy Networks’ electrifying safety advice...

Beloved TV electrician Billy Byrne is helping people in Liverpool stay safe with a series of videos sharing his top tips for people turning to DIY at home and in the garden.

The 65-year-old, famous for his role on BBC television show DIY SOS, is working with SP Energy Networks to promote good practice when it comes to working near electricity.

The number of safety incidents involving electricity around homes and gardens has risen steeply since last year, with more people digging out the toolbox or paintbrush during lockdown.

Figures from SP Energy Networks show a surge in DIY garden projects led to a 24% increase in reported incidents across the UK – rising from 126 incidents from January to June 2019 to 161 incidents in the same period this year. This spike in domestic incidents involved activities such as digging up trees, cutting high hedges, hammering in fences and painting over electricity service positions.

Billy, who has witnessed his fair share of electrical disasters over the years, has worked with SP Energy Networks to develop straight talking advice to ensure people stay safe while working in the garden, in the home and near overhead power lines, which people can often forget about when they take on DIY.

Billy, who has starred on DIY SOS since 1999, said: “Most of us have spent more time at home over the last six months than we have in the last six years. For me, it was a chance to tackle the odd jobs I’ve been putting off. But before you get cracking, you need to stop and think about the risks.

“The guys at SP Energy Networks really are a go-to source for easy to understand advice that anyone thinking of undertaking DIY should check out before they get started. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Billy’s top tips are:

  • Electricity cables and power lines should always be treated as live. Check for overhead power lines when working with ladders, scaffold or when pruning and cutting trees in your garden.
  • Shut off the power. If you're doing any work near electrical wiring or power supplies, where possible, shut off the power in your fuse box and use battery powered tools.
  • Use a cable detector to locate cables in your walls. A common DIY mistake is accidentally drilling, nailing or screwing things into cables hidden inside your walls.
  • Don’t assume that overhead lines on wooden poles are telephone wires – look for the “Danger of Death” sign as this tells you it’s an electricity pole. Touching anything with power lines can be deadly so remember you don’t have to make direct contact with an overhead line to receive a shock as electricity can jump gaps.
  • Underground cables don’t run in straight lines, they can change direction and depth. If your electricity is supplied by an underground cable and you’re planning digging work in your garden, please proceed with caution. If you are planning deep excavations, network plans are available from SP Energy Networks by calling 0141 614 0085.
  • In an emergency, dial 999 and let the emergency services know your location and that live electricity is involved. This can save lives.

SP Energy Networks’ safety campaign is designed to get people thinking about the dangers of electricity before attempting DIY.

Guy Jefferson, Customer Service Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “Since the start of the year, there has been a sharp rise in safety incidents as people do more DIY around their homes and gardens where there are lots of hidden electrical hazards.

“It’s important to consider these risks and make sure you follow the advice Billy outlines in the videos to ensure you can carry out projects as safely as possible. We want to help people plan ahead so we’ve put together some top tips to avoid some of the mishaps Billy has witnessed over the years.”

SP Energy Networks provides free safety advice on its website for those who are planning to do work near powerlines and underground cables. For further information please visit

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