Electricity is involved in about two thirds of all accidental house fires, with household appliances the most common culprits.
Sometimes fires are caused by faulty goods, which could be small items like mobile chargers, or big things like washing machines and dryers.Fires are also caused by people misusing electrical appliances, for example by leaving them plugged in for too long or covering them up allowing them to overheat.
Another big problem is overloading sockets and extension leads. Although many extension leads have four or more plug sockets, it doesn’t mean they can take that many items. High powered appliances like hair dryers, straighteners and irons can easily cause you to exceed the extension lead’s the limit, which is normally 13 amps.
Our top tips to try and prevent electrical fires are:
- Don’t overload plug sockets – try to use one plug per socket and don’t plug an adaptor into another adapter
- Look out for signs of dangerous or loose wiring, such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets and fuses that blow
- High powered appliances, such as washing machines, should be plugged into a single socket
- Check the fuse ratings of appliances – normal extension leads only take a maximum of 13 amps
- If you use an electric blanket, check it regularly and roll it up or store flat – don’t fold them
- Never use a hot water bottle in the same bed as an electric blanket and unplug it before you go to bed
- Don’t buy cheap, unbranded chargers or equipment – stick to reputable suppliers and traders
- Don’t leave white goods, such as washing machines and tumble dryers, on overnight
If you’re worried about overloaded electrical sockets, you can try the plug socket overload calculator from Electrical Safety First.
Electrical Safety First also provides a list of electrical products which have been recalled for safety reasons.
If you buy a new electrical appliance, particularly something large like a fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer, you should also register it. That way you will have peace of mind that if your appliance is recalled for safety reasons, you will be the first to find out. You can do this at Register My Appliance.
There are lots of cheap, unbranded goods on the market, particularly on the internet. There is more about the dangers of counterfeit, sub standard electrical goods here.