Safety reminder after laptop left on charge and unattended catches fire

Sat 23 Jul, 2016


Laptop - web pic.jpg

“Don’t leave laptops charging and unattended” is the message from firefighters following a bedroom fire in Stone last night (Saturday 22 July 2016). 

Two crews from Aylesbury were called to the incident in a in a two-storey house in Oxford Road at 9.25 pm. 

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used hose reels to put out the fire and a fan to clear the smoke. The room was 10 per cent damaged by fire, and 100 per cent damaged by smoke.

Small tools and a thermal imaging camera were also used to help ensure the fire was out, and oxygen was provided to a man who was suffering the effects of breathing in smoke.

The fire started in a laptop which had been placed on a pile of books and left plugged in and unattended.

Watch Commander James Tuffley said: “A home fire safety check had previously been undertaken at the property, and the smoke alarms fitted by firefighters had alerted the occupants to the fire, and enabled them to escape safely.

“They had also remembered our safety advice about keeping internal doors closed, and this action limited the fire growth and smoke damage to the room of origin so the bedroom was the only room affected by this fire.

“There are some specific safety messages that we give relating to electrical items as unfortunately people do underestimate the risks associated with electricity in the home. Items placed on charge can get warm, as we believe happened on this occasion, so it’s really important to keep them away from combustible materials, and don’t leave them on charge and unattended.”

Simple tips for keeping safe from electrical fires are:

  • Carry out a visual check of your electrics: Carry out a visual check in your home to ensure your safety and reduce the risk of electrical fires. It is often the simple things that you could check that lead to a serious fire – such as an appliance lead near a hot surface or an overloaded socket.
  • Keep combustible materials away from sources of heat: Don't store combustible materials close to the electrical intake equipment (service head meter and/or consumer unit) in your home. The warning is particularly appropriate where, for example, the electrical intake equipment is in a cupboard which is used to store items such as coats, cleaning materials and other things that ignite easily.
  • 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. Use Electrical Safety First’s online socket overload calculator to make sure that you are not overloading the sockets in your home.
  • Check that your electrical products have not been recalled: In the last six years, more than 250 recall notices have been issued for electrical products, mostly due to a risk of electric shock or fire. Yet response rates are worryingly low, with most recalls only achieving around 10 to 20 per cent success. Use Electrical Safety First’s online product checker to make sure the appliances in your home are safe. 
  • Avoid buying counterfeit or substandard goods: Counterfeit electrical goods can contain incorrect or faulty parts that overheat or break just days after purchase, risking fire or serious shock. Faulty electrical goods cause thousands of house fires each year. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • 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, and this will help prevent appliances triggering a fire.
  • 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: This helps to reduce the risk of fire. Switch off appliances when you go to bed or when you go out unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers.
  • Take care with chargers: Be aware of what you are charging, where it is and how long it has been on charge, and don't use chargers on surfaces such as bedding and carpets.
  • Buy your chargers from a reputable source: Many imported chargers do not satisfy UK safety regulations and can cause serious electric shock, injury or fire.
  • Never use water on an electrical fire: Don’t take any risks with your safety. Pull the plug out or switch the power off if it is safe to do so. Get out, stay out and call 999.
  • RCD (residual current device): Fit and use RCD protection if you do not already have it. An RCD is a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire. It provides a level of protection that ordinary fuses or circuit-breakers cannot provide.  RCD protection is particularly important when using electrical equipment outdoors.
  • Smoke alarms: Fit smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them regularly. If you would like a free Home Fire Risk Check, with free smoke alarms fitted where needed, ring 01296 744477 or send an email to cs@bucksfire.gov.uk