11 November 2015

People in Northamptonshire are this week being reminded about the potential risk that electrical fires can pose to their homes.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service are supporting Electrical Fire Safety Week, which ends on November 15, by releasing some tips on how these types of blazes can be avoided.

According to national figures, about 350,000 people are seriously injured and 70 people are killed, each year, because of electrical accidents in the home. Electricity also causes more than 20,000 house fires across the country each year.

Electrical fire safety tips:

  • Ensure that phones are not left charging for long periods of time.
  • Never leave your phones, or other devices, plugged in to charge overnight or while you are out of the house.
  • Look out for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.
  • 1.8 million chargers are bought online each year in the UK by mobile phone owners in search of a bargain. Although it’s often cheaper to buy imported, unofficial chargers, the cost can be much greater in the long run. Fake mobile phone chargers are often made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations. This means they can cause injury, electric shocks and fires.
  • Keep combustible materials away from sources of heat.
  • Don’t overload plug sockets. An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take so, to help reduce the risk of fire, be careful not to overload them. Try to keep to one plug per socket.
  • Check that your electrical products have not been recalled. Use Electrical Safety First’s online product checker by visiting www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk
  • Avoid buying counterfeit or substandard goods. Counterfeit electrical goods can contain incorrect or faulty parts that overheat or break just days after purchase, causing fire or serious shock.
  • Never bring mains-powered portable electrical appliances, such as hairdryers, heaters or radios, into a bathroom.
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order. Look out for fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason and flickering lights.
  • Regularly check for frayed or worn cables and wires. Check to see if the cable is fastened securely to the plug and check the socket for scorch marks. You should always carry out these checks before you use an appliance.
  • Switch off appliances at the socket when not in use. Switch off appliances when you go to bed or when you go out, unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • Do not leave appliances unattended – don’t turn the dishwasher or washing machine on just before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Don’t leave portable heaters switched on and unattended.
  • Never use water on an electrical fire. Pull the plug out or switch the power off if it is safe to do so. Get out, stay out and call 999.
  • Make sure you have at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home and test them monthly.

Mark Ainge, of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The use of electrical appliances is such a normal part of everyday life that it is very easy to forget the potential dangers that some items can pose when they are faulty, left on too long, or left unattended.

“It is important for us to release these messages in order to remind people about the simple measures they can take to protect themselves and their homes against these types of fire. It is often the simple things that people could check, that lead to serious fires, such as appliance leads near hot surfaces, or overloaded sockets.”

Home fire safety checks are offered and prioritised for people who are unable to help themselves or who need specialist advice. During these visits, tailor made advice is offered about preventing common fires, what to do if a fire starts, and how to form the best escape plan. Details about smoke alarms and smoke alarm testing are also covered. In some cases, smoke detectors can also be installed.

To request one of these checks, visit the Home Fire Safety link on www.northantsfire.org.uk. For urgent referrals, ring 01604 797000.