Our Advice on How to Avoid Electrical Fires
Fires in your home can be devastating events, no matter what their size, and at worse, they can cause fatalities. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to prevent fires around the home, and while you’ll no doubt be following the advice such as checking your smoke alarm and changing the batteries every six months, some people don’t realise how many fires are caused by electrical faults. Every year, there are about 8,000 house fires that have been caused by faults in electrical equipment and appliances such as faulty wiring, sadly leading to more than 30 deaths a year. This guide will show you how to avoid electrical fires and the steps every homeowner and tenant should take.
Causes of electrical fires
While you may think an electrical fire couldn’t happen in your home, a lot of them can be caused by your home’s electrical appliances that you use every day. Five fires a day are caused by white goods from washing machines and tumble driers to dishwashers and fridge freezers.
Many fires are caused because electrical safety checks aren’t carried out, especially in the private rented sector where tenants may not have much say over the maintenance of their homes. If you’re moving into a rented home, you should ensure an electrical safety certificate is provided, as this can help prevent electrical fires, especially in older homes where the wiring may be faulty.
Keeping white goods safe
Because electrical appliances can cause fires for a number of reasons, if you’re wondering how to avoid electrical fires, your first step should be learning to use these appliances safely.
When it comes to buying appliances, you should look for trustworthy retailers and stick to manufacturers you know if possible. It’s usually best to get appliances installed by an electrician, but if that’s not possible, follow the instructions with the machine, and give it a good read before you start to use it. Don’t use extension cords when plugging in appliances, and avoid putting them in direct sunlight, as this means they can overload. When you buy an appliance, make sure you register your details with the manufacturer, as they can get in touch if there’s a recall.
You should never leave appliances running when you leave the house. This creates a fire hazard, and nobody wants to return home to find the fire brigade at their property. It’s also important that you can hear any strange noises coming from the machine, or any buzzing or crackling around the plug. If this happens, turn off the appliance and get it checked before using it again. A dangerous appliance can also blow a fuse or trip your ground fault circuit interrupters, which you may not realise if you’re out the house.
Keep appliances clean. You should dust behind your fridge and freezer to get rid of lint that can cause a fire and clean out any oven spillages such as fat which can combust. This is also a good chance to check the electrical cord and electrical plug to ensure there’s no damage.
Look out for small appliances
Even small appliances can cause fires or give you a nasty electric shock if used incorrectly, especially anything that produces heat. You should unplug heat producing appliances from electrical outlets when not in use, and this includes things such as straighteners, toasters, kettles and irons. If you’re using these appliances away from outlets, you should plug them into surge protectors rather than cheap extension cords, then unplug them when you’re finished.
Chargers are also becoming a common cause of house fires. When your phone or laptop charger breaks, it’s tempting to buy a cheap one online, but you simply don’t know whether this is safe. Make sure you find one from the manufacturer.
Look out for signs of damage
There can be a number of warning signs that electrical appliances or fixtures are dangerous and need to be checked. If you notice your circuit breakers are constantly tripping, or you need to change your light bulbs in a certain light fixture more than usual, this could be a sign that you need your electrical wiring checked.
Sometimes, you may notice burn marks or discolouration around light switches or outlets. This can be another sign of faulty wiring and should never be ignored. Stop using these switches and call an electrician as soon as possible.
Use common sense
Many household fires are completely avoidable, which means that if people took a few precautions, over half of domestic fires in the UK wouldn’t need to happen. When you’re looking for tips on how to avoid electrical fires, it’s worth simply looking around your own home to see what could be a danger. For example, lots of homes have flammable materials, from cleaning to beauty products, and when it comes to electrics, they don’t mix.
It’s also worth speaking to kids about keeping the house safe from fires. Many fires are caused by kids using electrical appliances improperly, from curling irons to the toaster, so make sure they know to keep things unplugged and not to get distracted.
If you’re concerned about the electrics in your home being dangerous and want to know more about how to avoid electrical fires, then the team at Peninsula Electrical Services can help. Call us on 0151 625 3441 or e-mail [email protected] to get a quote today.