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Don’t let an electrical failure set your world ablaze

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As part of Electrical Fire Safety Week from 23 to 29 November, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is 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 - that works to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electricity in the home - the Week is reminding people to be vigilant at all times, especially when buying on-line, and going for cheap smart tech.

From faulty fridges and irons left unattended, to dodgy plugs and wiring, electrical equipment can be an unnoticed fire hazard in the home.

And with the recent cold weather, many sockets could still be overloaded with space heaters and electric blankets, especially with so many people staying at home during the lockdown and for homeworking.

HWFRS wants to make sure people know the risks and take care when using electrics in their home.

The Service attended 4,700 electrical fires between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2020.

Many of these – some 41% ­­– started in the kitchen and nearly all the fires were accidental. A fault in the equipment or the appliance was responsible for over 1,200 of all incidents, about a quarter of the total, while nearly 1,030 incidents resulted from cooking.

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.

Group Commander George Marshall from the HWFRS Community Risk Department 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 we are spending so much more time indoors due to the pandemic, and maybe using electrical kit far more than before.

“The kitchen is the scene of a huge number of fires, so be extra careful with cooking equipment. Fire in the home can be a tragedy, but many such fires are preventable.

“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
  • 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
  • Unplug appliances when not in use

Group Commander Marshall added: “Black Friday also takes place during Electrical Safety Week – this coming Friday – when people are tempted by some amazing bargains, as they are again in the run-up to Christmas, meaning it’s ‘open season’ for counterfeiters as well.

“So if you’re buying online, make sure you buy from a retailer that you know and trust, either direct from the manufacturer’s website or a trusted High Street name. That way if something goes wrong, you can return the product for repair or a refund.:

“Remember, if a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Points to consider include:

  • fake and substandard items can be almost impossible to spot and online shoppers can be misled by imagery 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
  • while many items appear sophisticated on the outside, they lack essential safety components inside

Go to the Fire Kills website for a wealth of guidance to improve safety in your home.