ELECTRICAL FIRE SAFETY WEEK 2012 – 24TH – 29TH SEPTEMBERPosted
The three fire and rescue services in Wales are backing the Electrical Safety Council as it urges the public to be more safety conscious as there is a growing number of high risk electrical items prevalent in homes.
Alarming new research from the Electrical Safety Council shows a rise in fires caused by the misuse of appliances in the home.
And to help keep homeowners safe from fire,the fire and rescue services in Wales are reminding residents that they offer free home fire risk checks to residents - free safety advice is just a phone call away on 0800 169 1234 from anywhere in Wales, or visit www.freesmokealarm.co.uk
Appliance misuse is already the top cause of all fires inUKhomes with millions of people committing everyday safety 'blunders' without realising the risk of fire.
The Charity, whose campaign is supported by the Chief Fire Officers Association, has issued guidance, top tips and a Facebook application to help combat these easily avoidable safety mistakes.
Wales' biggest blunders[and the percentage of the Welsh public committing them]
- Creating a fire hazard by using the microwave as an additional surface and blocking air vents (28%)
- Increasing the risk of serious fire spreading by leaving the tumble dryer running unattended or overnight (9%)
- Blocking air vents by failing to clean behind their fridge/freezer (44%)
- Overloading adaptor sockets, causing an unsafe rise in temperature (16%)
- Leaving an electrical appliance on while unattended, only to be alerted by a burning smell (8%)
Overall, a staggering three quarters[i] of Welsh adults confessed to committing at least one simple safety blunder or misuse of an electrical appliance. The Electrical Safety Council believes that there is a clear link between this lack of understanding and the surge in 'blunder fires'.
Fires caused by misuse of appliances have increased by over a third since 2009[ii], despite there being an overall decline in house fires, with chip pan fires plummeting by two thirds and fires started through smoking dropping by a third[iii]. On average, fires caused by misuse of appliances kill 22 people, seriously injure about 2,500[iv] and cost tens of millions of pounds in damage each year[v]. In the last year alone, there were 14,700 fires of this nature.
Concern is heightened by the fact that there has been a considerable increase in the number of higher risk appliances in our homes - since 2004, the number of microwaves has increased by 1,457,000 and tumble dryers by 2,148,000[vi].
Despite the increasing risk to homes, many Welsh adults do not have adequate protection from electrical fires; only half (50%) have a Residual Current Device (RCD) in their fusebox, a vital safety device which minimises the risk of fire by cutting off the power in the event of a fault. However, almost four out of five (77%) believe that their homes are electrically safe.
Simple steps to safety
To help the public test their own knowledge and become more aware of fire safety blunders, the ESC has created a Fire Blunders game, hosted on Facebook, which helps identify mistakes and improve safety.
People can also download the free 'Home Electrical Safety Check' Smartphone app, a simple tool to check homes for electrical danger, or visit the ESC's dedicated webpage esc.org.uk/homesafety, which contains top tips for avoiding simple blunders.
Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council said: "People think that they are behaving safely but the majority of people we surveyed had put themselves at risk by unknowingly making a safety blunder. Fires caused by misuse of appliances - the vast majority of which are electrical - are so easy to prevent but they will keep increasing unless people understand the simple things that can and do cause fires.
"Today we are issuing a warning to consumers: make sure you're informed about electrical safety to avoid the increasing risk of injury or death by electrical fire. Most accidents are preventable and the ESC is here to help you. Protect yourself, your home and your family by following our simple tips, installing RCD protection in your fuse box or testing your current knowledge in our Facebook blunder quiz."
Vij Randeniya, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association said: "We support the ESC's campaign and the partnership with local Fire and Rescue Services around the country. A house fire can have devastating and long term effects, not only losing belongings, memories and possibly lives, but also in terms of mental scars and trauma. Thankfully, many fires can be prevented by taking a few simple safety steps, but the ESC's research has exposed a shocking lack of public awareness in this area."
Paul and Jenny Leahy, put their tumble dryer on overnight and were woken in the early morning by their son who frantically alerted them to smoke billowing from their utility room. Paul said: "We should never have left it on while we were in bed, as this increases the risk of serious fire because you can't react in time - but at the time we just didn't know the risks. Although we were lucky no-one was hurt, the experience was very scary for us and our son and it has cost us so much money and time. We are now much more electrical safety savvy and make sure our appliances are protected by an RCD. We urgeother people to do the same."
Tolearn how to protect yourself, your home and your family from house fires take the Facebook Blunder quiz by searching 'Electrical Safety Council' on Facebook, or follow our top tips on esc.org.uk/homesafety
Top tips to reduce electrical fires
The ESC has produced five simple tips to help reduce electrical fires in the home:
- Ensure you have adequate RCD protection in your fusebox (consumer unit)
- Ensure your home has a full periodic inspection and test from a registered electrician (To see if an electrician is registered, visit esc.org.uk)
- Avoid using faulty or damaged electrical appliances, lighting and sockets. If you think there is a fault with your installation or appliance, stop using it immediately and ask a registered electrician or visit esc.org.uk for advice
- Test your current knowledge on our Facebook blunder quiz at www.facebook.com/ElectricalSafetyCouncil and be in with a chance of winning a fantastic trip to Paris, including two nights in a four star hotel
- Conduct a visual check of your home by downloading the ESC's free 'Home Electrical Safety Check' smartphone app
The study included fire and accident trends from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and data on the number of high risk electrical items in our homes from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).The ESC also commissioned new research into public attitudes to fire safety amongst 4,000 adults.
Notes to Editors
- The Electrical Safety Council is a UKcharity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. Visit www.esc.org.uk for more information.
- All data unless stated otherwise is from: Populus: Populus interviewed 4,098 GB adults online between 17th and 24th August 2012. Results have been weighted to be representative of all GB adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information see www.populus.co.uk
- Ensuring you have an RCD
To check you have RCD protection in your fusebox, see if it has a button marked 'T' or 'Test' - this can be used to check the RCD and should be done every three months. If you don't have RCD protection, ask an electrician to install it. You can also use plug-in RCDs for mains-powered / high risk equipment - these can be purchased for around £10 but, note, these will not offer the same protection as an RCD in your fusebox. For more information or to watch the instructional video on RCDs, visit www.esc.org.uk.
For more information on the Electrical Safety Council, please visit www.esc.org.uk.