Help for you to stay safe during Electrical Fire Safety Week

Home truths are shocking

Burnt out plug socketShocking statistics suggest that half of all accidental dwelling fires in England are caused by faulty or carelessly used electrical appliances.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is urging people to quickly plug any gaps in their knowledge about the dangers of dealing with electricity.

In 2012-13, 43 people died and 3,463 were injured in electrical dwelling fires in England.

An alarming lack of awareness about the dangers of electricity is being partly blamed for these disturbing statistics.

As part of national Electrical Fire Safety Week, which runs between 23 and 29 September, AF&RS is asking people to pay greater attention to their electrical appliances.

The Electrical Safety Council is particularly keen to warn people about the danger of ‘grime fires’ during the week.

Grime fires relate to dirty and messy kitchens, with the build-up of fat in ovens which are not cleaned properly as well as items being placed too close to sources of heat.

Grime fires are partly a result of busy lifestyles, with people feeling they don’t have time to clean their ovens or behind their fridges.

People in a rush are also more likely to store things on top of microwaves, and block vents, or leave tea towels or other flammable items near heat sources such as hobs and toasters, both of which can easily result in a fire starting.

There are many other causes of electrical fires, including people using products that have been recalled by the manufacturer due to safety concerns, and by power sockets being overloaded.

This website contains important links and information on how to spot the dangers and help protect you, your family and your home.

The Electrical Safety Council now provides a product recall checker, which provides details of all electrical products which have been recalled since 2007.

Many products on the list are likely to have been recalled due to safety concerns, so it would be wise to check to see if any of your items are on the list.

Use the Socket Overload Calculator, an interactive feature which can help tell you if you are overloading your electrical sockets or not.

The feature allows you to “plug in” up to four appliances/devices from a selection of 25, to see if the combination is a safe one or if you have created a fire risk.

Other top tips for how to avoid electrical fires include:

  • Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating.
  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.
  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.
  • Try and keep to one plug per socket.
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them triggering a fire.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason, or flickering lights.
  • Check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view – behind furniture or under carpets and mats.
  • Unplugging appliances helps reduce the risk of fire.
  • Unplug appliances which don't need to be on continuously when you’re not using them or when you go to bed.

Specific safety advice concerning electric blankets includes:

  • Store them flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.
  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
  • Try not to buy second hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear.

And don’t forget, a properly installed, regularly tested, smoke alarm can prove to be a vital life saver in the event of any type of fire.

Station Manager John Rides from AF&RS’s Community Safety team, said: “It can be hard to stay on top of household chores with busy work and life schedules, particularly for families with young children.

“However, we are regularly called to fires in the home that start in the kitchen, so I would strongly urge everyone to be vigilant to the hidden dangers of dirt and grime.

“We recommend you make time at least once a year to clean out any ventilation systems you use in your kitchen as well as the space behind fridges and freezers.

“Throughout the year, it’s also important to make sure items aren’t stored on top of microwaves, or in front of its vents, as well as ensuring there isn’t a build up of grime in ovens and toasters.”

Vist www.esc.org/kitchensafetyfor more information and tips on how to avoid electrical fires, and the safety pages of this website for useful information.