Plug the gaps in your knowledge about the risks of fires involving electrical appliances

Fire in garageAn electrician from Yate is supporting a campaign by Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) to reduce the number of fires started by faults with electrical appliances.

Andy Warren, who lives in Windsor Drive, is supporting Electrical Fire Safety Week (Monday 10 to Sunday 16 November) after a fault with his freezer caused a devastating fire in his garage which caused extensive damage to his classic Morris Oxford car.

In 2013/14, 41 people died in accidental house fires caused by electrical faults in England and a further 3,092 were injured (nearly 40 per cent died due to a problem in the electricity supply).

Fire in garageSince 2006 AF&RS has attended 370 accidental house fires where the cause has been a fault with an electrical appliance. In 120 cases tumble driers were involved, in 116 fires it was a washing machine at fault, 77 fires were caused by faulty dishwashers, 39 cases involved fridge/freezers and 18 fires were caused by problems with washer-driers.

Mr Warren said: “The fire was devastating and caused large amounts of damage to the garage, the car and other items being stored there.

“We have smoke alarms fitted in our home but had never considered fitting them in the garage. I would urge anyone who has electrical appliances in outbuildings and garages to fit a smoke detector to alert them in the event of a blaze.”

Fire in garageAF&RS is using Electrical Fire Safety Week to promote a number of resources to help people to reduce the risk of electrical fires.

The AF&RS website – www.avonfire.gov.uk– has links to the Electrical Safety First Charity website which provides a product recall checker. This features details of all electrical products which have been recalled since 2007 due to safety concerns. Click here to find out more

There is also an interactive feature called a ‘Socket Overload Calculator’, which gives details about the safety of appliances plugged into the same socket. 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. Click here to find out more

The Electrical Safety First Charity has also created a free smartphone app which allows people to carry out a quick, visual check to ensure their home is electrically safe. This is available by visiting http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/around-the-home/visual-checks/

AF&RS Group Manager for Community Safety, Matt Peskett, said: “The most important thing you can do to protect your family from the risk of fire is to make sure you have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home. If you have electrical items, like a freezer or a washing machine, in outbuildings or a shed, it would also be a good idea to fit the alarms there too. The batteries should be regularly checked to ensure they are working.

“Smoke alarms will activate at the first sign of fire, giving occupants the chance to escape from the property, but only if they are working.

“Fires can be devastating, destroying property and belongings and endangering lives. Electrical appliances can overheat if they are left on unnecessarily or if too many appliances are plugged in at the same time.

We would like everyone to ensure they follow our advice to keep their families safe.”

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.
  • Unplug appliances which don't need to be on continuously when you’re not using them or when you go to bed.
  • Never leave appliances like washing machines and dishwashers on if you go out.
  • Always unplug mobile phone, tablet and laptop chargers as they can get very hot and may catch fire.