Lothian & Borders Fire and Rescue Service offer a free Home Safety Visits across in the Lothian and Borders area. During the Home Safety Visit, firefighters, who work in pairs, will advise you on Fire Safety matters such as the safe use of electrical appliances, smokers materials and candles as well as highlighting the potential hazards of cooking . The firefighters will also stress the importance of having a working smoke alarm and will supply and fit, free smoke detectors, complete with ten year batteries, if you need them.
The service is both free and confidential and available to everyone. To arrange a visit, or for any information on Fire Safety, phone free on 0800 169 0320.
Most of us take electricity for granted. We use it every day and forget that it can be dangerous if we do not treat it with respect. Of reported fires, over 19% are caused by electrical faults and a further 25% are caused by people not using electrical equipment and appliances properly. So, it is important that we do all we can to reduce the risk of a fire in our home caused by an electrical problem. In 2007, Government statistics showed that over 43,000 fires started by accident in UK homes were reported to the Fire and Rescue Service. A recent Government survey of houses in England recognised that fires reported to the Fire and Rescue Service only represented about a quarter of all fires in homes.
- Do find out how old your wiring is, and get the installation checked at least every 10 years and when you move into a new home. If you rent your home, the electrical installation and appliances provided are the landlord’s responsibility. Ask to see a copy of the certificate or report confirming that the installation meets the UK national standard BS 7671 (Requirements for Electrical Installations) and is safe to use.
- Do check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
- Do turn off any electrical appliances that you are not using, particularly at night, when a fire can spread quickly and cause more damage.
- Do check flexible cables to appliances regularly for damage, such as fraying and wear and tear to confirm that you can keep using them. Also check to see that the cable is fastened securely to the plug. You should always carry out these checks before you plug the appliance in.
- Do be careful when using hand-held electrical appliances and make sure that you switch them off and unplug them when you have finished using them. This is particularly important with items that get very hot such as hair dryers and curling tongs which, if you leave them on, can easily cause any flammable material that they are in contact with to catch fire.
- Do check the current rating of an electrical adaptor before you plug appliances in and always make sure that the total current used by the appliances are not more than the adaptor’s rating.
- Don’t overload electrical adaptors by plugging too many appliances in to one socket especially appliances with a high electrical current such as kettles, irons and heaters. It is much better to have extra sockets installed by a registered electrician.
- Don’t put electric heaters near curtains or furniture, or dry clothes on them.
- Don’t cover the air vents on storage heaters or fan heaters.
- Don’t trail flexible cables under carpets or rugs.
- Don’t use a bulb with a higher wattage than the one printed on the light fitting or lamp shade you are using.
Government statistics show that the largest number of reported fires caused by accident in the home, almost 11,500 each year, are caused by people misusing electrical cooking appliances, including microwaves. So you need to take special care to reduce the chance of a fire being caused by electrical appliances in your kitchen. You must: not let leads from other appliances, like kettles or toasters, trail across the cooker; never dry towels on, or near, the cooker; not let fat and grease build up on the cooker, especially in the grill pan where it can easily catch fire; and make sure that you turn the cooker off when you have finished using it.
If a fire starts in your home, a smoke alarm will give you valuable time. You are more than twice as likely to die in a house fire if you do not have a working smoke alarm. Modern alarms are neat and tidy, cost under £10 and are easy to fit. In certain circumstances, your local fire and rescue service may install one for you, for free as part of a free home fire risk check.
Filed under: Fire Safety