As the Christmas holiday fast approaches, checking fire hazards around the house would be a good bet for your to-do list.
The chance of having a fire at home is higher at Christmas than at any other time of the year, and recent figures highlight faulty appliances and leads as one of main causes*.
Overloading plug sockets and careless use of devices pose a real risk of sparking an electrical fire – a preventable nightmare, which could ruin a dream Christmas.
Hot hair straighteners left on a pillow, portable heaters placed near curtains, laptops whirring away under duvets: all can cause flammable material to smoulder and catch fire, putting property and even lives in danger.
Community fire safety officers are giving a no-frills message this winter: wise-up to simple steps to prevent an electrical fire and get your Christmas wrapped-up.
Risk-assess your home, share the do’s and don’ts with friends and family and stay safe, before powering up those new gadgets, gizmos, devices, toys and tools.
Community Safety Officer Mark Caley has this advice to avoid an electrical fire:
• don’t overload sockets by plugging too many appliances into an adaptor
• switch off electrical appliances at night
• turn off and unplug hairdryers and straighteners
• don’t leave laptops or tablets on bedding
• unfurl coiled extension cables
• if an electric blanket has scorch marks, a worn flex or loose connections, bin it
• check sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, call an electrician
• test your smoke alarm every week and replace the battery once a year
e-cigarette and mobile phone chargers are a recent menace, and with numbers of devices in use in many homes, householders are urged to ensure chargers are up to spec.
Fake chargers are often made with components that fail to meet UK safety regulations and can cause injury, electric shocks and even fires.
Mark said: ‘Electrical fires are a year-round risk, and people should never overload sockets, especially with kettles, irons, heaters and other appliances with a high electrical current rating.
The festive season heightens the risk, as people spend more time at home relaxing with friends and family and many households reach ‘peak’ appliance use.’
He summed up: ‘Fire safety may not seem priority when you’re running out of road before Christmas. But a few minutes spent identifying risks could prevent a disaster. We’re urging people to push the item up their to-do list this year.’
Minister for Home Affairs Bill Malarkey said: ‘We hope the public will take note of these important safety messages from the fire prevention team and that everyone will have a safe and enjoyable festive season.’
You are half as likely to die in a house fire if you have a working smoke alarm. If a fire starts in your home, a smoke alarm gives you the time to get out.
Photo - A scorched pillow which began smouldering when hot hair straighteners were left on it and a burned plug socket which had been overloaded, both examples captured locally.
* Home Office detailed analysis of fires attended by fire and rescue services, England, April 2016 – March 2017, published October 2017