Don’t let an electrical failure set your world ablaze
As part of Electrical Fire Safety Week from 22 to 28 November, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is again warning people not to let electrical failures set their world ablaze.
Supporting the Government's Fire Kills campaign and backed by the charity Electrical Safety First – which works to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electricity in the home - the Week is a chance to remind people to be vigilant at all times, especially when buying on-line, and going for cheap smart tech.
Counterfeit electrical products remain an all-too common problem while even genuine items can have problems, so registering purchases and monitoring electrical product recalls remain vital safety-factors.
From faulty fridges and irons left unattended, to dodgy plugs and wiring, electrical equipment can be an unnoticed fire hazard in the home.
Moreover, with many people still self-isolating or working at home due to the pandemic, and the weather cooling as autumn bites, many sockets could still be overloaded with IT equipment and gadgets, as well as space heaters and electric blankets.
Last year, online marketplaces, already seen as a convenient and cheap way of buying household goods, were even more popular, with over half of UK adults (58%) saying they would be using them for Christmas shopping, especially during the pandemic when high streets trips were harder.
This year, with on-going supply chain issues and continuing Covid-caution, shoppers are likely to go online again for those “must have” Christmas gifts and gadgets.
But sellers of counterfeit or sub-standard electrical products exploit online marketplaces as an easy way to sell their goods – so it can be impossible to know what you are actually buying, and no guarantee that your product is genuine.
So HWFRS therefore wants to make sure people know the risks and take care when using electrics in their home.
In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the Service attended nearly 4,540 electrical fires in the ten year period between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2021 – over a third of them in homes and nearly a quarter in business premises.
The most common causes – over a third each – were due to cooking and electrical issues, while the kitchen was the location that accounted for the most number of incidents at over 40%.
Worcester, Redditch and Bromsgrove fire stations saw the most incidents in the HWFRS area.
While HWFRS is working hard to help bring these figures down, people can also play their part by checking that the electrical equipment they use every day is in good shape and being used properly.
HWFRS Head of Prevention, Emma Roberts, said:
“Electrical equipment is an inescapable part of all our lives, from essentials like heating and lights to luxuries like entertainment systems or beauty products.
“Numerous accidental fires begin with an electrical appliance, so it’s really important to be sure that your electrics are in top-notch condition and used properly – especially this year when people are again spending so much time indoors due to the pandemic, and maybe using electrical kit far more than in the past.
“The kitchen is the scene of a huge number of fires, so be extra careful with cooking equipment. By following some simple steps, you can help keep you and your loved ones safe from fire.”
- Don’t overload plug sockets
- Regularly check for worn or frayed wires
- Unplug appliances when not in use
- Keep appliances clean and in good working order
- Never leave portable heaters unattended
- Never leave them on while sleeping
- Ensure that they are positioned well away from anything which could knock them over
- Ensure they are at least a metre away from any combustible materials, such as paper or curtains
- Regularly inspect your heater for damage. If it’s damaged – don’t use it
“Black Friday also takes place during Electrical Safety Week – this coming Friday – when people are tempted by some amazing bargains, meaning another chance for a counterfeit bonanza. Then it’s Cyber Monday next week with more tempting offers available.
“So if you’re buying online, make sure you buy from a trusted retailer, either direct from the manufacturer’s website or a well-known High Street name. That way if something goes wrong, you can return the product for repair or a refund.
“Shoppers can also check a product’s status at Electrical Safety First’s free ‘Check It Out’ site, identifying third party sellers on popular online retailers and helping make an informed buying decision. Find out more at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/check-it-out/.
“Having bought an item, don’t forget to register it for free at registermyappliance.org.uk .
“Remember, if a bargain seems too good to be true, it most probably is.”
Points to consider include:
- fake and substandard items can be almost impossible to spot and online shoppers can be misled by pictures taken from official product sites, false official safety marks and all-too-believable pricing
- items can even be priced just below recommended retail value to avoid arousing suspicion
- buying fake electrical products is particularly risky as they often contain faulty parts that can overheat and catch fire or deliver a fatal electric shock
- although many items appear sophisticated on the outside, they lack essential safety components inside