Safety warning after hairdryer starts fire

Wed 30 Jul, 2014

The object on the right is all that remains of the hairdryer. The object on the left is the remains of a fan.

Firefighters are reminding people of the importance of switching off and unplugging hairdryers and other electrical goods when they are not being used. The warning follows a fire in Aylesbury yesterday (Tuesday 29 July).

Two crews from Aylesbury Fire Station were called to the fire, in a ground-floor flat in Bishops Walk, shortly before 11.30am.

Watch Manager Jamie Humphrey said: “Once the fire had been extinguished and on investigation, it was clear that a hairdryer had been the cause of the fire.

“The owner had used the hairdryer then placed it on a storage radiator, leaving it plugged in. She had then gone shopping in the town centre for about 20 minutes.

“We found the hairdryer on the floor amongst other debris which had helped the fire develop. We came to the conclusion it must have fallen and that when it landed, its switch was knocked into the 'on' position."

The property was equipped with smoke alarms installed by Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, and these raised the alarm.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire using two hose reels and a fan. They also used a thermal imaging camera and a toolkit.

Jamie offered the following general safety tips:

  • Switch off and unplug appliances when not in use.
  • Don’t overload plug sockets and adapters, and don't plug adapters into other adapters. Use the Electrical Safety Council’s online socket overload calculator to check. High-current appliances include hairdryers, irons, kettles, dishwashers and heaters. Low-current appliances include televisions, computers, hi-fis and radios.
  • Keep appliances in the kitchen and other rooms clean and in good working order.
  • 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.
  • Don't buy counterfeit or substandard goods. Buy your electrical chargers from a reputable source. Many imported chargers do not satisfy UK safety regulations and can cause serious electric shock, injury or fire.
  • Don’t use foreign appliances in UK sockets unless they have been converted for UK use with a suitable conversion plug.
  • Consider using a residual current device (RCD), which works like a circuit breaker to protect against electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires. RCD protection is particularly important when using electrical equipment outdoors.
  • If you have a meter cupboard, don’t store combustible materials close to electrical intake equipment.
  • In the event of a fire involving electricity, get out, stay out and call 999. Never use water on an electrical fire, and don’t take any risks with your safety. Pull the plug out or switch the power off if it is safe to do so.