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Winter Electrical Fire Risks – Safety Tips
With Winter bringing cold weather and long nights, heaters and electricity tend to be used much more than during other times of the year. Half of all heating related fires occur between the months of December and February.
Heating equipment is involved in 1 in every 6 reported home fires so it is very important to know the right safety measures to use.
Cooking appliances are the most common cause of house fires (52%). Some of these are cause by electrical problems with the appliances. The next common causes are other electrical appliances (12%) and electrical distribution (12%). This shows that electrical fires amount to a large quantity of all house fires and special care should be taken to ensure your electrics are safe.
The causes of electrical fires could be very easily fixed by home owners. Although these statistics point to fires in the home, it is just as important to check your electrical equipment in your business.
Heating related fires
- Have chimneys and vents professionally cleaned every year.
- Store cooled ashes in a tightly covered metal container and keep it outside at least 10 feet from your home or any nearby buildings.
- Plug only 1 heat producing appliance (e.g. space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from any heat source – fireplaces, stoves, radiators, heaters.
- Never use extension cords on space heaters.
- Turn off portable heaters when leaving a room or going to sleep.
- Only use fuel recommended by the heater manufacturer.
- Place a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace.
There are 2 main components that can contribute to electrical related fires – the wiring in the property itself, and the wiring in an appliance.
If either or both of these are defective there will be a risk.
If you notice any of the following, it is a good idea to ask a qualified engineer to check everything is in working order.
- Hot plugs or sockets
- Lights that flicker
- Scorch marks on sockets, fuse boxes and switches.
- Fuses that blow for no obvious reason.
There are some safety rules you should also remember in your day to day usage of appliances in your home.
- Don’t cover adapters, electric heaters etc.
- Turn off and unplug any electrical appliances when you aren’t using them. (Except those which are meant to be permanently on, for example fridges, freezers or recording devices.)
- Make sure plugs have the correct fuse for appliances.
- Use only 1 plug in each socket.
- If you HAVE to use an adapter, use a fused ‘inline’ type.
- Avoid using multi-way adapters and overloading sockets as they may overheat.
- Don’t run leads or cables under carpets or rugs, that way you can see if they become damaged.
- Replace worn, frayed or taped up leads and cables.
- Always use a proper ironing board and turn off the iron after use. Make sure the iron is left to cool on a heat resistant surface away from curtains, carpets, fabrics etc.
- Always switch off hair straighteners and curlers after use and leave to cool on a heat resistant surface away from curtains, carpets, fabrics etc.
Checking regularly for faults in wiring and electrical appliances can help avoid an electrical fire. Taking just a few minutes to have a look could save lives.