Preventing electrical fires: How to stay safe in your home
Electrical Safety First and National Accident Helpline have teamed up for Electrical Fire Safety Week to bring you all the information you need to ensure your home is safe. Read on to uncover the risks and discover some key tips to help you avoid the potentially catastrophic effects of an electrical fire.
There are over 20,000 electrical fires in the UK every year* – and all of them cause some form of damage, whether it’s items in your home being destroyed, painful injuries or even fatalities. With this in mind, every measure should be taken to keep your home as free from the risk of electrical fires as possible.
What causes electrical fires?
- Electrical appliances or products, such as: hair dryers, washing machines, phone chargers, lawnmowers etc.
- Plug sockets, power outlets, cables and wiring
- Accidents during DIY activities
There are countless ways that electrical fires can start, but often it comes down to one of these three sources, Examples of such accidents include a faulty hair styling appliance catching fire, a plug socket being overloaded and sparking into flames, or a hedge trimmer cutting through its own cable. Ultimately, most electrical fires can be avoided if the correct precautions and care are taken.
Our Electrical Fire Safety Week infographic
We’ve put together this handy Electrical Fire Safety Week infographic with some key statistics, and a list of DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to using electricity in your home. Share with your friends and family, and keep your loved ones informed on the importance of creating a safely powered home.
Downloadable letter templates
Requesting an electrical inspection
If you’ve just moved in and haven’t received a copy of your home’s Electrical Installation Condition Report, ask your landlord or letting agent to provide one.
Reporting an electrical fault
If you think there’s a fault with an electrical appliance in your home, request a visit from an electrician.
What can I do to reduce the risk of electrical fire?
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to minimise the risks of fire in your home. The first step is to call in a professional to check out the fundamental structure and quality of your property’s electrics.
For the homeowner
- Only use a registered electrician when carrying out work in your home
- When you move into a new property, call your local fire department and see if they will carry out a free Home Fire Risk Assessment
- Install a smoke alarm and test it weekly to make sure it works
- Carry out a periodic inspection of all electrics in the house once every ten years to make sure everything is in good working order
For the tenant
- Call your landlord and ask for a complete and up-to-date report and certificate that guarantees your property meets the UK National Standards: BS 7671
- When the inventory is taken in a furnished flat, go through and check the quality of all visible wiring on electrical appliances and equipment. If there are any loose fittings, or there’s fraying or obvious wear and tear, let the landlord know as soon as possible and request a replacement.
- Never attempt to fix broken electrical appliances yourself. Call in an expert and avoid the dangers DIY can bring
The second step in preparing a safe electrical environment is to think about your behaviour with your electrical appliances. Nine out of ten electrical fires start from products*, and exhibiting a reckless attitude towards them can cause lapses in judgement or concentration which lead to fires. Some measures you can take include:
- Using a residual current device (RCD) which cuts the electricity supply if a fault occurs
- Making sure you use a cable detector when embarking on some DIY
- Always being aware of what’s flammable, such as synthetic curtains, residual grease and fat in ovens, and certain hair products, and taking extra care around these items.
*All statistics taken from Electrical Safety First