In 2007, Government statistics showed that over 43,000 fires started by accident in UK homes were reported to the Fire and Rescue Service. A recent Government survey of houses in England recognised that fires reported to the Fire and Rescue Service only represented about a quarter of all fires in homes. The truth is that most of us take electricity for granted. We use it every day and forget that it can be dangerous if we do not treat it with respect. Of reported fires, over 19% are caused by electrical faults and a further 25% are caused by people not using electrical equipment and appliances properly. So, it is important that we do all we can to reduce the risk of a fire in our home caused by an electrical problem. The tips below are taken from the NICEIC guide to Fire Safety(taking care of your electrical appliances and wiring for reducing the fire hazards).
Things you can and should do – for your fire safety
- Find out how old your wiring is, and get the installation checked at least every 10 years and when you move into a new home. If you rent your home, the electrical installation and appliances provided are the landlord’s responsibility. Ask to see a copy of the certificate or report confirming that the installation meets the UK national standard BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations) and is safe to use.
- Check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
- Turn off any electrical appliances that you are not using, particularly at night, when a fire can spread quickly and cause more damage.
- Check flexible cables to appliances regularly for damage, such as fraying and wear and tear to confirm that you can keep using them. Also check to see that the cable is fastened securely to the plug. You should always carry out these checks before you plug the appliance in.
- Be careful when using hand-held electrical appliances and make sure that you switch them off and unplug them when you have finished using them. This is particularly important with items that get very hot such as hair dryers and curling tongs which, if you leave them on, can easily cause any flammable material that they are in contact with to catch fire.
- Check the current rating of an electrical adaptor before you plug appliances in and always make sure that the total current used by the appliances are not more than the adaptor’s rating.
Things you can but shouldn’t do – Don’t Do this
- Don’t overload electrical adaptors by plugging too many appliances in to one socket especially appliances with a high electrical current such as kettles, irons and heaters. It is much better to have extra sockets installed by a registered electrician.
- Don’t put electric heaters near curtains or furniture, or dry clothes on them.
- Don’t cover the air vents on storage heaters or fan heaters.
- Don’t trail flexible cables under carpets or rugs.
- Don’t use a bulb with a higher wattage than the one printed on the light fitting or lamp shade you are using.
Fire Safety and the Cooking appliances
Government statistics show that the largest number of reported fires caused by accident in the home, almost 11,500 each year, are caused by people misusing electrical cooking appliances, including microwaves. So you need to take special care in your use / handling of the electrical appliances in your kitchen in order to reduce the chance of a fire being caused by these.
Simple tips for your fire safety:
- Don’t let leads from other appliances, like kettles or toasters, trail across the cooker;
- Never dry towels on, or near, the cooker;
- Don’t let fat and grease build up on the cooker, especially in the grill pan where it can easily catch fire;
- Please make sure that you turn the cooker off when you have finished using it.
Fire Safety and the Smoke Alarms
If a fire starts in your home, a smoke alarm will give you valuable time. You are more than twice as likely to die in a house fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm. Modern alarms are neat and tidy, cost less than ever, and are easy to fit. In certain circumstances, your local fire and rescue service may install one for you, for free as part of a free home fire risk check.
Read more online about the Fire Risks + Fire Dangers Prevention in homes: