Electrical Fire safety

The latest fire statistics demonstrate that half of all accidental dwelling fires were caused by faulty or careless use of electrical appliances, including cookers. In 2013-14, 41 people died in accidental electrical dwelling fires in England and a further 3,092 were injured.

Millions of people in the UK expose themselves and their families to potentially fatal accidents in the home through simple electrical blunders because of an alarming lack of knowledge about the real danger of electricity.

People severely underestimate the risks associated with electricity. Around 70 people die and 350,000 are seriously injured each year.

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