September 26 – 2 October 2016 is Home Safety Week and this year the focus is on fires caused by home appliances, especially white goods.
Home insurer, NFU Mutual has revealed that it paid out just over Â£25 million in home fire claims in 2015 and that 52% of the cost of these claims arose from electrical fires.
Nicki Whittaker, a High Value Home specialist at NFU Mutual said: “Where household appliances were directly responsible for causing fire, cookers, dishwashers and fridges/freezers were the worst offenders. Tumble driers, electric blankets and irons were also named as a source of home fires.
“It will come as a great shock to many householders to learn that everyday appliances designed to make life easier could present a fire risk. We urge homeowners never to overload plug sockets, regularly check for frayed or worn cables and wires and to unplug appliances when not in use.
“Programming appliances such as tumble driers or dishwashers to run while homeowners are at work or asleep could also expose people to increased risk if a fire does occur and it goes without saying smoke alarms should be fitted and regularly tested.”
Many electrical fires can be avoided by following some simple actions:
- Don't use imitation electrical chargers as they may be unsafe
- Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
- Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
- Unplugging appliances and chargers when you are not using them or when you go to bed helps reduce the risk of fire
- Hair straighteners can get extremely hot. Always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
- Keep to one plug per socket
- If you use an adaptor, use a fused 'in line' type. The adaptor or extension lead will have a limit of how much power it can safely provide so be careful not to overload sockets
- If using a cable drum extension lead, it should be completely unwound to avoid overheating Remember: scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that low or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons could be signs of loose or dangerous wiring
Using an electric blanket
- Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
- Never use an electric blanket if you have an air flow pressure relief mattress, or use paraffin based emollient creams. Ask for non-flammable alternatives instead
- Do not buy second-hand electric blankets
- Check regularly for wear and tear and replace your electric blanket every 10 years