Second safety reminder after laptop catches fire while being charged
Mon 8 Aug, 2016
Firefighters are again urging people not to charge electrical items on surfaces such as bedding or furniture, and not to leave them unattended, following a second laptop fire in just over two weeks.
Crews from Buckingham, Winslow and Aylesbury were called to a house in Thornborough on Saturday evening after the computer, pictured, set fire to a sofa.
It follows a similar fire at a house in Stone on 21 July, which started when a laptop was left on charge on top of a pile of books in a bedroom.
It also comes just days after the launch of a campaign by the charity Electrical Safety First, which warns of the potential fire risk caused by the heat generated by electrical items being charged.
Watch Commander John Robinson from Buckingham Fire Station, who was in charge of Saturday's incident, said: "The property did have working smoke alarms, but the occupier was not in at the time.
"There could have been far more damage had a neighbour not noticed that there was a fire and reacted so promptly."
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel to put out Saturday's fire and a fan to help clear the smoke. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a picture of the damage to the sofa.
Top tips for keeping safe from electrical fires:
- When charging electrical items, keep them away from combustible materials, and don’t leave them on charge and unattended.
- 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.
- 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.
- An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so 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.
- Fit and use RCD (residual current device) 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org