Electricity is the main source of power for everything we do at home. However, with us all using even more tech everyday, it’s important to be aware of the dangers electrics can cause. According to Electricity Safe UK, 89% of electrical fires are due to electrical products in the home.
So, one of the best ways to reduce your fire risks is to make sure you’re using your appliances safely.
Key electrical hazards to watch out for
- Hot plugs and sockets: if you’ve got scorch marks on your plugs or sockets, or they feel hot to the touch, unplug them and check them for any loose wiring or faults. Blown fuses can also lead to dangers, so make sure you stay on top of any broken plugs.
- Badly wired plugs: It sounds simple, but if the coloured wires are sticking out of a plug or are exposed, water and dirt could get inside or the wires could be pulled. Change any plugs that are loose or tighten them up. Or, if you’re not confident doing this, call a professional.
- Fraying power leads: The outer covering of a power lead should never be damaged. If it is, replace your cable or lead immediately. This can commonly happen to phone charger wires, so keep an eye on them. If you’re repairing any plugs, make sure you don’t expose any cables.
- Repaired power leads: Repairing a power lead isn’t always a safe, viable option. If a lead is split or frayed, you shouldn’t tape over it or use a previously repaired lead. Taping cables together can lead to water getting in, meaning the cable is at risk of causing a fire. Instead, treat yourself to a new appliance or buy a new lead.
- Cables in dangerous places: Don’t leave power leads in places where they can be tripped over. Make sure they aren’t near water, or too close to the cooker top. Also, make sure you keep children and pets away from wires that they could pull or chew.
- Lightbulbs: Don’t use a lightbulb with wattage that’s too high for a lamp – lighting appliances should say which wattage you should be using.
- Water near electrics: Don’t let cables or plugs get wet, and keep drinks away from electrical appliances. Not only is spilling your morning coffee a downer, but it could be really dangerous.
- Toasters: Keep your toaster clean and away from anything that could easily fall into it. If something gets stuck inside your toaster, it can lay on the elements and catch alight. Cleaning out the crumb tray regularly will also help reduce fire risks.
Where possible, make sure to turn off as many electricals as you can at night. This also applies if you’re going away for an extended period of time.
Fire hazards from sockets
Sockets and extension leads can be a major fire hazard. If too many appliances get power from one socket, it can overheat and catch fire.
Here are some tips and advice on how to avoid overloading, from Electrical Safety First:
- It’s safer to use an inline extension lead, rather than a cube type.
- Never plug another extension lead into the one you’re using. This is called ‘daisy chaining’ and it means one outlet is providing excessive power, which can cause the outlet to overload and start a fire.
- Make sure that any appliances or chargers you plug in aren’t higher than the rating of the extension lead – they shouldn’t add up to more than 13 AMP (3,000 watts). And, never plug in more than one appliance that uses a lot of energy, as this can cause fires.
- If you need to use an extension lead outdoors, make sure it’s waterproof and has the correct rating.
You can also stay safe by carrying out regular checks on your plugs, sockets, devices and appliances.
In an emergency
If there’s a fire, call 999 and get everyone out of the house and to a safe place. Don’t go back into your property, and don’t try to save any of your possessions. That’s what insurance is for.
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