Don’t misuse your electrical equipment

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Faulty or misused electrical equipment caused more than 200 fires in homes in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes last year, leading to 26 injuries.

Now Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service and the Electrical Safety Council are campaigning to urge householders to take action so that they don’t become one of this year’s statistics.

Dodgy plugs and wiring, and electrical equipment such as hair straighteners accidentally left on, are among the numerous and often unnoticed fire hazards in the typical home. In addition, many sockets could still be overloaded with space heaters and electric blankets because of the cold weather.

Chris Bailey, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “We are asking people to check that the electrical equipment they use every day is in good shape and is operated properly.

“Fires in the home can be devastating, but many could have been prevented if people had simply unplugged a piece of equipment after using it or not tried to run too many items off an adapter.

“For example, during a recent home safety check, our staff found 14 plugs attached to a single 13-amp wall socket. Three adapters had been connected to each other, and if it wasn’t already enough of a fire hazard, there were no smoke alarms in the home and the whole lot had been covered with a bean bag to make it look tidier!”

Following the safety check, the socket is now no longer overloaded and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has fitted two 10-year smoke alarms in the home.

Chris offered the following simple safety tips:

Don’t overload plug sockets.

Regularly check for worn or frayed wires.

Don’t use adapters lugged into other adapters.

Don’t overload adapters, particularly with high-current appliances such as kettles, hairdryers, irons, dishwashers and heaters. (Low-current appliances include televisions, computers, hi-fis and radios).

Unplug appliances when not in use.

Keep appliances clean and in good working order.

Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture.

Be extra careful with cooking equipment in the kitchen.

Consider using Residual Current Device (RCD), which works like a circuit breaker to protect against electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires. RCD protection is particularly important when using electrical equipment outdoors.

To help keep you and your family safe from fire, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service provides free home safety checks, with free smoke alarms fitted where needed. Ring 01296 744477 or email cs@bucksfire.gov.uk to book one.