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Electrical safety

We attend at least one fire every two days caused by faulty electrics, appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets.

Real-life electrical fire stories

We're sharing some real-life electrical fires we've attended to help highlight how you can avoid this happening to you.

How to avoid electrical fires

  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home.
  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.
  • Remember - one plug per socket. If you need more plugs than there are sockets, use a bar-type fuse adaptor and NEVER block plug adapters.
  • Unplug appliances at night or when you’re not using them to reduce the risk of fire - unless they are designed to be left on all the time such a fridge or freezer.
  • Never use appliances when you’re out, or asleep. For example, dishwashers, washing machines or tumble dryers should only be used if you are at home, and awake. If you’re out, or asleep, you will not be able to respond to the smoke alarm should a fire happen.
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them starting a fire.
  • Don’t put anything in the microwave that is made of metal, or has a metallic finish or parts.
  • Keep electrics (leads and appliances) away from water.

Lighting and lamps

  • Keep lamps and bulbs well away from curtains and other fabrics. Some bulbs still get hot, and will set the fabric above alight.

  • Choose LED lighting or bulbs which remains cool even when in use.

  • Ensure you have the correct bulb for the light fitting.

  • When installing lights, such as down-lighters, only use a qualified electrician.

Plugs and sockets

  • Watch for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as: scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that often blow, circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reasons and flickering lights.

  • Don’t overload sockets - plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating.

  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines and kettles, are very high powered and should have a single plug to themselves.

  • An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of fire. Appliances use different amounts of power - a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example.

  • Look out for signs of badly wired plugs - any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug making it a fire hazard.

  • Never cut sealed plugs off to use them again.

Using extension leads safely

The Electrical Safety Council has created a useful socket calculator to help you use extension leads safely.

 

Register your appliance to see product recalls

Register your appliance quickly and easily with the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA).


Or you can visit the trading standards website to see the latest product recalls.

Download our handy leaflet (PDF) and keep it somewhere safe to remind yourself of our top tips for electrical safety.



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