Advice for ensuring a safe home issued to mark Electrical Fire Safety Week

20 November 2017
A close-up of a UK three-pin electrical plug

​Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is supporting a national campaign week promoting the safe use of electrical items in the home.

Taking place from 20 to 26 November, Electrical Fire Safety Week is run by Electrical Safety First, a charity which works to reduce and prevent damage, injuries and death caused by electricity.

In 2015/16 NFRS attended 385 domestic fires, of which 239 (62 per cent) were of electrical origin. The main causes for these fires were product misuse (102 incidents) and faulty appliances and leads (47 incidents) and faulty power supply (34 incidents).

NFRS Community Safety Officer Liz Armstrong said: “Every year, more than half of accidental domestic fires are electricity-related. Most of these are caused by electrical products, either through misuse or faults, and over half start in the kitchen, with cooking appliances and white goods the main cause.

“As part of Electrical Fire Safety Week we’re sharing advice from Electrical Safety First to help you avoid electrical fires, and keep your loved ones and home safer.

“We’re also using these statistics to highlight just how important it is to have at least one working smoke alarm on every floor of your home, to test it regularly and to have an escape plan so everyone knows how to get out in an emergency.”

Electrical Safety First tips for home fire safety

  • Consider fitting your fuse box or plug sockets with an RCD (Residual Current Device), a life-saving device which automatically cuts off the electricity if there’s a fault.
  • Have the electrical installation in your home checked by a registered electrician when you move in, then every 10 years, or every five in privately-rented accommodation
  • Don’t store combustible materials such as clothes, papers or cleaning materials close to your cut-out fuse, electricity meter or fuse box, especially if under the stairs.
  • Don’t overload electrical adaptors by plugging too many appliances into one socket, especially those with a high electrical current rating such as kettles, irons and heaters
  • Keep portable heaters away from flammable materials like paper, curtains and furniture and never use one to dry clothes.
  • Don’t leave washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running overnight or when you are out. Turn off any appliances you’re not using, particularly at night when a fire can quickly spread unnoticed.
  • Before plugging appliances in for use, check flexible cables for damage, wear and tear, and that the plug is fastened securely to the cable. Don’t use unless everything is in good condition.
  • Hand-held electrical appliances, such as hair dryers and straighteners, get very hot in normal use. After use, switch them off, unplug them and put them away, preferably storing things like hair straighteners in heat-proof pouches.
  • Check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks, hear sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling,) or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
  • Always buy appliances and chargers from a reputable retailer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, using and maintaining electrical appliances.
  • If your appliance begins making a strange noise or isn’t working properly, don't ignore it. Unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.
  • Don’t overload washing machines or tumble dryers – take bulky items like duvets to the dry cleaners.
  • Always register your electrical appliances so that the manufacturer can contact you if there’s a problem. You can do this online at Register my appliance.
  • Check your products are safe using the Electrical Safety First list of recalls. 
Get more advice on using white goods safely Find out more about electrical safety in the home

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