All three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales are urging households to remain vigilant and follow lifesaving safety advice after a growing concern for electrical fire safety at home. In the three years to 31st October 2022, Welsh Fire and Rescue Services attended almost a thousand accidental electrical fires in the home.
The call for action falls in line with Electrical Fire Safety Week (14 – 20 November 2022), a consumer awareness campaign run by Electrical Safety First in partnership with the Home Office.
With worries surrounding the cost of living at the forefront of all our minds, residents may be considering alternative methods of heating the home, such as electric heaters or log burners. However, rising costs mean fire prevention at home is now more important than ever. It is vital that these appliances are used correctly and not at the expense of safety.
Head of Community Safety and Partnerships for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Group Manager Bleddyn Jones, said:
“In the last three years, Welsh Fire and Rescue Services attended almost a thousand accidental electrical fires in the home.
We understand that many households will want to take advantage of the ‘Demand Flexibility Schemes’ from energy suppliers, to run appliances at off-peak hours. However, we’re urging you to stay alert and never leave them running unattended, especially overnight. If a fire starts while you’re asleep, you’ll have less time to be alerted and escape, putting yourself, your loved ones and your home at risk.
Never leave electrical appliances running overnight or unattended and ensure you have working smoke alarms fitted and test them regularly. If you need any safety advice or would like a Home Safety Visit, please complete the online form, which all Fire and Rescue Services have. We should never take the safety of our homes for granted.”
Fire and Rescue Services often attend fires caused by malfunctioning white goods and appliances which are worse for wear. There are fears that those could increase while people try to limit their energy costs at home by trying to take advantage of any off-peak schemes available.
Head of Fire Safety and West Area at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Dave Hughes, said:
“Electrical fires present a real risk to homeowners, often resulting in significant damage to property and sometimes with the most tragic consequences.
During Electrical Fire Safety Week, please take the opportunity to check your home and consider the safety of your family.
It’s so important to use electrical appliances and devices correctly - overloading sockets, using the wrong chargers, and not checking the wiring on items are all common causes of fires in the home, yet are all easily avoided.
If a fire were to break out, the effects can be devastating if they are not detected early enough, especially if this happens overnight.”
Householders can follow these electrical fire safety tips, to reduce the risk of an accidental fire starting in their home:
- Operate appliances according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Keep electrical appliances clean, in good working order and have them serviced regularly in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not buy fake or counterfeit electrical goods, these maybe untested and not meet the required safety standards.
- Don’t leave electrical appliances on standby, unless they are designed to be left switched on (fridges and freezers for example). All other appliances should be turned off at the plug, and ideally unplugged, before going out or going to bed.
- Avoid using washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers overnight or if you’re out of the home. Don’t charge phones or gadgets overnight and on soft furnishings like in or on your bed.
- If you do use a tumble dryer, please ensure it is well ventilated, make sure the vent pipe is kink free and not blocked or crushed in any way. Always clean out the filter after using your tumble dryer.
- Check your sockets regularly - if you see burn marks or they feel hot, stop using them and get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
- Make sure that any portable electric heaters are being used safely. They shouldn’t be used to dry or heat clothes and shouldn’t be left switched on when unattended.
- If you use an electric blanket, check that it is in good condition and that manufacturers’ instructions are followed. If a blanket is more than five years old, consider buying a new one from an approved retailer and ensure that they are stored correctly to avoid damage to the internal wiring.
- Use trailing gang extension leads, rather than a 'block-type' adaptor. To avoid overloading, don't allow the total amps of all plugs in the adaptor to add up to more than 13 amps (or 3000 watts of power). Don't plug adaptors into adaptors.
The start of the week also sees Fire and Rescue Services promoting the AMDEA Register My Appliance campaign.
Home Fire Safety Manager for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Wayne Thomas, said:
“We want you to keep safe, and with winter approaching and the cost of heating our homes potentially increasing, we urge you to take a few simple steps that could even save you some money. Registering your new, old or second hand appliances means that if there is a product recall or safety issue you will be notified, and this can prevent a possible fire or hazardous condition. It only takes a couple of minutes to do and they will only contact you about product safety.”
You can register both new and old appliances here: https://www.registermyappliance.org.uk/
All Welsh Fire and Rescue Services are supporting NFCC’s Stay Fire Safe campaign to provide advice and help reduce fire risks in the home. The campaign includes encouraging people to contact their local Fire and Rescue Service to request a Safe and Well / Home Safety Check for themselves or their loved ones. These checks are prioritised for those most at risk of a fire in the home and can involve home safety practitioners getting in contact to run through a list of questions, followed by a visit which may involve the installation of free alarms.
To request a Safe and Well / Home Safety Check:
Call 0800 169 1234, text 07507303678 or click here.