Plug in to electrical safety tips

Maintaining electrical equipmentCLEVELAND fire chiefs are urging local people to follow some simple electrical safety tips to help them and others stay safe and free from injury and even death over the festive period.

The call from Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Head of Community Safety Les Jones forms part of the Brigade’s Stay Safe and Celebrate campaign which runs up until Christmas and into the New Year.

Figures show that between April – November 2013 there were 90 accidental house fires in Cleveland, 37 (41%) of which were electrical-related.

Les Jones said: “Although overall accidental house fires are continuing to drop year-on-year, a significant proportion of accidental house fires are still electrically-related.

“At this time of year people spend a lot of time in their home and if residents follow some simple safety advice and tips this will help them and others to stay safe and remember the festivities for the right reasons.

“Lots of people will be getting electrical goods for Christmas, particularly with the growth in the technological age, and these can pose a threat in the home. For example electrical good should never be left on charge overnight as a power surge could start a fire. Also, people must not overload sockets as this can be dangerous too. Just because you have a 4-way adaptor, this does not necessarily mean it is safe to plug in four electrical items as you could be exceeding the amp limit.

“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:

Do’s

• 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’s

• 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

Wiring

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.