Firefighters in Northamptonshire are supporting Electrical Fire Safety Week (19 to 25 November) by urging people to check on neighbours and friends who are elderly or more vulnerable.
According to national figures released by Electrical Safety First and the Home Office, more than half of accidental house fires are caused by electricity. At least a quarter of electrical fires in the home involve people aged 65 or over.
Last year in England, 3,849 accidental electrical fires were reported in the homes of people in this age group, the equivalent of 11 a day. In 81 per cent of these cases the occupant lived alone.
The kitchen is believed to be the most hazardous room in the home for people in this age group, with 81 per cent of electrical fires starting there. Nearly three quarters of these fires are due to the misuse of appliances.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) carries out hundreds of free Home Safety Visits at the homes of more vulnerable people in our communities, including those aged over 65 and people with disabilities or learning needs.
Advice about electrical safety issues, such as the use of overloaded plug sockets, forms part of these visits.
Lisa Bryan, District Liaison Officer at NFRS, said: “Many older people live safely and independently in their own homes, but our home safety visits can give further peace of mind and help to spot any potential fire safety issues.
“Some older people are very vulnerable and need regular assistance from a carer, friend or family member to help make sure they are safe. This could mean checking electrical appliances are working properly and that plugs and wires are not damaged.
"We urge those caring for others to help us to ensure there are working smoke alarms on every level of their home and to even refer them to us for a Home Safety Visit.”
For information on referring someone for a Home Safety Visit, go to our Home fire safety checks page or ring 01604 797 161.
Home electrical safety tips
- Watch out for overloaded plug sockets. Many people use four-way bar adaptors to allow them to plug more appliances in, particularly in older properties that do not have as many sockets. However, just because there is space to plug in four appliances, it does not mean that it is safe to do so. Visit Electrical Safety First to check.
- Do not store flammable ‘clutter’ near the electrical intake or on top of microwaves.
- Make sure any portable heaters are being used safely. They should not be used to dry or heat clothes and should not be left switched on and unattended. Also watch out for trailing cables that can cause a trip hazard.
- Check electric blankets are in good condition and that manufacturers’ instructions are followed. If a blanket is more than ten years old, consider buying a new one from a retailer you trust.
- Make sure electrical products have not been subject to a recall or safety notice. You can carry out a simple search using Electrical Safety First’s online product checker.