The call from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Head of Community Safety Les Jones comes after figures for the last three years show that almost 28% of all accidental house fires were caused by faulty or misused electrical equipment.
In 2012/13 there were a total of 161 accidental house fires across Cleveland, of which 54 (31%) were electrical-related. In 2011/12, there were a total of 193, of which 50 (25.9%) were electrical, while in 2010/11 there was a total of 203, of which 54 (26.6%) were of an electrical nature.
Les Jones said: “Although overall accidental house fires are dropping year-on-year, over the last year we have seen a rise in the number of electrical home fires. Our message to local people is that electrical fires in the home can be avoided if residents follow some simple advice and tips.
“A big part of our preventative work, including our free Home Safety Fire Visits, is spent reminding people of the hazards that electrical equipment can pose and how they can remain safe in their home.”
Advice includes the following:
- Unplug appliances when not in use, unless they are designed to be left on, like your fridge or freezer
- Regularly check for worn or frayed wires – always ensure cables are secured properly to the plug before plugging in anything
- Ensure tumble dryers and washing machines are cleaned and maintained – excess fluff can build up over time and catch fire
- Keep all appliances clean and in good working order – look out for fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason and flickering lights
- Check all of your appliances have a British or European Safety Mark. Get a qualified person to check if you are unsure
- Use an RCD (Residual Current Device). It works like a circuit breaker to protect against electric shocks and electrical fire risk
- Don’t overload plug sockets – extension leads and adaptors will have a limit to how many amps they can take. Try to keep one plug per socket
- Don’t leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead
- Don’t buy second hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear
If you notice any of the warning signs below, ask a qualified electrician to check your wiring:
- hot plugs and sockets.
- fuses that blow for no obvious reason.
- lights that flicker.
- brown scorch marks on sockets, plugs and fuse boxes.
Les Jones added: “There’s further advice and information on our website including short safety videos and a socket calculator to make sure people don’t overload their sockets and extension leads.”
For further information, visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/electrical or join us on Facebook or Twitter.