Electrical appliances have become a staple of modern life whether it’s our mobile phones or fridge freezers, to kettles, computers and TVs; it’s hard to think how we would get by without our electrically powered essentials.
This week sees the start of Electrical Fire Safety week and here at Lancashire Fire Rescue Service we’re going to be supporting the campaign across the county in a bid to raise awareness of one of the biggest causes of accidental house fires in the country.
One of the biggest issues with having so many electrical gadgets and gizmos is the potential to overload our sockets. Although extension leads mean there’s space for more appliances to be plugged in, it is not necessarily always safe to do so. Many extension leads are rated at 13Amps, but some can be rated even lower which means if the demand for power exceeds that 13Amp number you could be risking a fire. Most extension leads come with the rating marked on the side or bottom of the plug as do the electrical items you want to plug in.
If you find that you regularly rely on extension leads, perhaps consider having additional sockets installed, however ensure you use a registered electrician to carry out any electrical work and that includes any repairs to damaged electrical items. General wear and tear on cables and flexes can mean that items become dangerous to use and may overheat or spark which could also result in a fire.
It’s a good idea to have regular checks around your home so as to spot any warning signs before they have the time to develop. Here are some danger signs worth keeping an eye and nose out for:
- A smell of hot plastic or burning near an appliance or socket
- Sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance
- Blackness or scorch marks around a socket or plug, or on an appliance itself
- Damaged or frayed leads
- Coloured wire inside leads showing at the base of the plug, appliance or anywhere on the flex
- Melted plastic on appliance casings or leads
- Fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trigger for no obvious reason
The free ‘Home Electrical Safety Checks’ App is available to download for iphones/ipads and Android phones from the Electrical Safety First website. The app enables you to carry out basic visual checks around the home to keep you and your family safe and has a simple checklist function to note the items that need improvement, highlighting any that are potentially dangerous and require urgent remedial action from a registered electrician- www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/visualchecks
The online ‘Socket Overload Calculator’ is available on the Electrical Safety First website. The calculator was developed in response to feedback from fire and rescue authorities that while overloading sockets is a major cause of accidental domestic fires, it is difficult to explain the risks to householders without a visual representation. The calculator is a virtual tool that allows people to “plug in” typical household appliances and check the impact of the load on a standard four-bar extension lead.
For more information, on fire safety in the home, please visit our website www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk and book a home fire safety check by filling in the online form or ring 0800 1691125.