Every year in the UK people is needlessly injured or killed in house fires. In the UK there were 44,000 house fires in the year 2011-12. Of these, 37,600 were accidental fires and 14,700 fires were in relation to misuse of electrical appliances and equipment. It comes as no surprise to realise that electrical fire in the home is a growing problem.
Unfortunately many electrical fires that occur could have been easily prevented. Fires in the home do not make sensational headlines. They happen behind closed doors and many people believe it won’t happen to them.
Fire brigades up and down the country are issuing warnings to take more care with electricity and electrical items. The warnings come as stark reminders to householders who may be taking risks with electricity and serve as a reminder that electricity is dangerous and does kill. Just following a few simple safety tips will ensure that the likelihood of an accidental fire in your home drops considerably.
Fires can cause devastating consequences and if you are lucky enough to survive uninjured, you will have caused costly damage to your property.
Electrical fires accounted for 28% of accidental fires in the UK. They were made up of space heating appliances, electrical distribution and other electrical appliances. Electrically related fires account for over a quarter of accidental fires and are the second largest cause of accidental fire in the UK. The biggest cause of accidental fires at 52% was the improper use of cooking appliances.
The Majority of household fires in the UK are down to bad DIY and, It is a statistical fact that 72% of domestic property in England and Wales needs to be rewired Now, the life expectancy of wiring is about 25-30 years, many of the properties have not been rewired since the late 50’s and some even older.
Using faulty electrical appliances and leads do kill. Despite constant warnings being issued by fire brigades and other key electrical charities such as the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) using faulty appliances and leads accounted for 19 fatalities in the UK in 2011-12. This highlights the importance of regularly checking leads for signs of damage and ensuring the appliance is clean and operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
The misuse of appliances and equipment was the biggest cause of non-fatal casualties – 2,600 in accidental house fires. This has now taken over the casualty rate for chip pan fires which has been declining since 2004.
The news is not all bad though as it does appear that householders are beginning to take more care in the use of electrical appliances with casualty rates falling by 80 to 900 cases in 2011-12. One of the main causes of unnoticed house fires is leaving items such as hair straighteners accidentally switched on and overloaded sockets. Householders are being encouraged to unplug electrical items when not in use and not to rely heavily on extension leads.
Poor and inferior wiring in the home (either due to deterioration or from tampering) contributes to accidental fires also. Fire can break out inside walls without the householder realising. Any apparent problem such as hissing or bad smells coming from sockets, flickering lights and any other concern should receive attention from a qualified, registered electrician. The best way to prevent such problems occurring in the first place is to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) carried out. For homeowners, the recommended Maximum time span between inspections is no more than 10 years, the requirements for rental properties are less. This ensures that any potential problems with the electricity supply can be addressed and rectified before any real problems occur. Unexpected smells and sounds coming from your electrical outlets are a sign that something is not right.
Finally, ensure your home has a working smoke alarm. Should a fire break out in your home you will be alerted and will avoid you and your family becoming trapped in your home or intoxicated by smoke and fumes caused by the fire. Fire alarms can be either battery operated or mains powered. It is important to locate the fire alarms correctly in your home so that they are most likely to alert you in the event of a fire. An electrician can advise on this or alternatively your local fire brigade will be happy to advise. Fire alarms should be tested at regular intervals, ideally weekly to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Whatever you do, make sure you always check out your contractor, see if he is registered on the approved bodies website never take their word for it and if it does come back as not registered phone the approved body and check, before you ever get into a contract with the Electricians.
For further assistance Call Safe-Electric on 0800 542 0638 or contact us via our website www.safe-electric.com