Top causes of electrical fires in the home
Electricity is a major cause of accidental fires in UK homes. Some of these fires are caused by faulty wiring, faulty equipment or electrical faults but many are caused by human error.
With this in mind, we all need to take care around electricity and treat it with respect. Here are some of the top causes of electrical fires in the home and how they can be avoided:
Washing Machine – these are the biggest culprit of fires in the home caused by electrical faults. It is advisable to never leave your washing machine on when you go out or go to bed and if you smell smoke or notice any damage to the wire or plug, don’t use it! Either get it checked by a qualified engineer or replace it if you are at all unsure of its safety. Tumble dryers and dishwashers follow closely behind in terms of causing fires so apply the same rules to them.
Cooker – there are many ways your cooker could be the cause of a fire. Never trail wires from the kettle, toaster or other appliance across the hob, don’t use your oven to dry towels, keep the grill pan clean as a build up of fat and grease can easily catch fire and remember to turn the cooker off after use.
Heaters – heaters can be a source of danger in a number of ways. Never cover the air vents/ventilation slots on an electric heater. They are there to prevent overheating so if they are covered up the appliance could overheat and catch fire. Don’t dry clothes on your electric heater and make sure it is well clear of curtains or furniture. Never, ever use an electric heater (or any other electric appliance for that matter!) in a bathroom – water and electricity are a lethal combination.
Plug Sockets – we use a great number of electrical appliances and gadgets in our homes these days and can often find ourselves running out of empty plug sockets. This is especially true in older houses as they were generally not fitted with anywhere near enough sockets for modern needs. So what is the answer? Many of us use extension cables or adapters to allow us to plug more items in but it is vital to check that you are not overloading the sockets as this is a major fire risk. Just because there is still an empty space for a plug, it doesn’t mean it is safe to plug it in. Different pieces of equipment use different amounts of electricity. You must make sure that you never plug appliances into an extension lead that together use more than 13 amps. You should also check the rating of your extension lead because although most are 13 amps, some are 10 amps or even less. To put this into real terms, a mobile phone charger or DVD player can be less than 0.5 amps whereas a kettle can be 13 amps. The safest solution if you regularly run out of sockets is to ask a reputable electrician such as Barton Electrical to fit some more sockets in your home.
Cables – many people run cables under carpets, rugs or across walkways but this should be avoided. Firstly, it can be a major tripping hazard but it can also be a fire risk. It is also important that you regularly check cables for signs of damage such as fraying, scorch or heat marks and loose plugs.
Light Fittings – make sure you always use a registered electrician such as Barton Electrical to install your light fittings. Incorrect or faulty wiring is a major fire risk. You should also check that you are using the correct bulbs – don’t exceed the wattage of your lamp or light fitting with the bulb used.
Did you know that many local Fire and Rescue Services will visit your home to do a Home Fire Risk Check. They will let you know how safe your home is or identify any problem areas. Visit www.direct.gov.uk/firekills for more information or alternatively, call your local Fire and Rescue Service. Do not dial 999 though!
Check your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they are in full working order. Many lives have been saved by working smoke alarms.
Finally, just use common sense. Treat electricity with respect and don’t leave anything plugged in unnecessarily.