There is a long and interesting history of when, how and who discovered electricity which you can read more about here. Since it was discovered we have become increasingly more reliant on electricity, with it now being used to power many aspects of our lives from the moment we wake up but sometimes we can forget how dangerous it can be. According to the Detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services report (2018/19). 49% of accidental dwelling fires were caused by faulty appliances/leads or the misuse of appliances/equipment. Further to this The Fire Fighters Charity suggest that it is those living alone who are aged 65 and over that are most at risk of accidental electrical fires with roughly 3117 accidental electrical fires in 2017/18 (England) occurring at the dwellings of people aged 65+ who were living alone.
As a result of these alarming and sometimes avoidable figures we have decided to put together a few tips about how to look after and use electrical items safely:
- Register your white goods at registermyappliance.org.uk. This will ensure that you are made aware of any safety issues or recalls. You can also check the details of any appliances at https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls/ and http://www.whitegoodsafety.com/ to see if they may have had recall notices issued since 2007.
- Don’t run electrical cables where they can get damaged such as under doors or in places where you won’t notice if there is any damage, like under a rug.
- Reduce the use of extension leads by getting a qualified electrician to install more plug sockets – they are only ever suppose to be temporary!
- Only use one extension lead per plug socket.
- Water and electrics don’t mix! Don’t get electrical appliances wet, including plugs and sockets, and use electrical gardening equipment when it is dry outside.
- Avoid placing anything flammable on electrical appliances such as lamps and heaters.
- Be careful with any DIY projects – make sure you know where the cables are!
- If replacing a fuse make sure to use the correct one for the appliance.
- Unless appliances have been designed to be left on such as freezers, always turn them off at night or when you go out. Better yet, unplug them.
- Although covered by the previous point this is a common thing for households to do that shouldn’t be done – avoid running washing machines and dishwashers overnight.
- Keep electrical items clean and in good working order, some may require maintenance on a regular basis.
- Purchase genuine chargers. Cheap chargers purchased online may not meet stringent UK safety standards and as a result have been blamed for growing numbers of house fires.
- Use light bulbs with the recommend wattage of the appliance/fixture.
There are also a few signs to look out for that may be signs of lose wiring or other electrical problems that could potentially develop into a much bigger problem if not seen to by a qualified electrician:
- Hot plugs or sockets
- Fuses that blow quite often
- Burn marks on sockets
- Lights flickering a lot