In 2013-2014 the number of accidental fires in the UK totaled 35,024, A huge 23.7% (8,309) of these were caused by electrical equipment; the second largest contributor behind cooking appliances. But fires from electrical appliances has fallen by 29% in 2013-2014.
Here are some tips to help with electrical safety:
- Always make sure you check the condition of wiring in your household every 10 years. If you live in a rented property it is the landlord’s responsibility. Make sure ask to see a copy of the certificate confirming that the electrics meet UK national standards: BS 7671
- Ensure sockets are checked regularly. If they are hot to the touch or have burn marks get a registered electrician to check them.
- Any unused electrical equipment should be turned off especially at night
- Be careful when using hand-held electrical equipment. Make sure you switch off and unplug when you have finished. This is important with items that get hot, hair dryers or curling tongs for example, as they may come into contact with materials that can catch fire such as curtains
- Check the current rating of an electrical adaptor before you plug appliances in. Make sure that the total current used does not exceed the adaptor’s rating
- Make sure an appliance has been tested and approved before you purchase it. Check for the BEAB seal of approval
- When fitting a plug, ensure you wire it correctly and always use the correct size fuse. Never fit a higher rated one or replace a cartridge fuse with fuse wire, even as a temporary measure. When a fault or overload current flows through the fuse wire it will become hot and melt. The melted fuse breaks the circuit, disconnecting the faulty circuit and keeping you safe
- Make sure you use a Residual Current Device (RCD) when working outside with electrical equipment. These are switches that trip a circuit under dangerous conditions and instantly disconnect the electricity. Don’t use electrical equipment outside if it’s raining unless the equipment is designed to do so
- Use a qualified electrician for electrical repairs.
- Overload any adaptor or socket, especially with appliances that have a high electrical current such as kettles, irons or heaters. It’s safer to have extra sockets installed if needed
- Use a bulb with a higher wattage than its light fitting. e.g. 100 Watt bulb in 60 Watt lighting fitting. This can lead to overheating resulting in a scorched shade, the lamp holder crumbling when touched, or even a fire
- Cover the air vents on storage heaters or fan heaters
- Trail flexible cables under carpets or rugs
- Plug one adaptor into another and try not to use adaptors and extension leads where possible