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Preventing electrical fires

​​What should I be checking for?

For plugs and sockets, keep an eye out for the following:

  • hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – they are all signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems
  • badly wired plugs – any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug
  • overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating

The risks with cables and leads include:

  • getting frayed and damaged – make sure the outer covering of all power leads is in good condition and replace if necessary
  • being badly positioned – they shouldn’t be anywhere that they could be tripped over, or near water, cookers or other sources of heat
  • running them under rugs or carpets where they can wear through without anyone noticing – position them elsewhere

For electrical appliances, you should never:

  • get them wet – this includes plugs and sockets, so don’t put a vase of flowers on top of the TV, for example
  • leave them on at night – unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers
  • put anything in the microwave that is made of metal, or has a metallic finish or parts

Electrical appliances, especially ones that run at high speeds and contain motors, like washing machines, should be serviced once a year by a qualified electrician.

Plugs, sockets and cables also need to be used correctly, you should:

  • make sure you can’t see any coloured wires between the plug and the power lead – change the plug properly
  • make sure the wires are held firmly in place inside the plug
  • use sockets safely – it's better to use a bar adaptor (multi-board) on a lead than a block adaptor
  • only use one adaptor per socket – don’t plug one adaptor into another and try to keep to one plug per socket

What should I do if there is an electrical fire?

If there is an electrical fire, pull the plug out, or switch off the power at the fuse box – if it is safe to do so. Sometimes this can stop the fire immediately.

Never use water on an electrical fire.

Don’t take any risks with your safety – get out, stay out and call 999.

How do I use fuses correctly?

When you’re fitting or replacing a fuse, it's important to use the right fuse for the appliance to make sure the fuse doesn’t overheat. Check the manual or look for a sticker on the appliance to find out its wattage and then use the correct fuse:

  • for appliances up to 700 watts, use a 3 amp fuse
  • for appliances between 700 and 1,000 watts, use a 5 amp fuse
  • for appliances more than 1,000 watts, use a 13 amp fuse

Extension leads and adaptors ​have a limit on how many amps they can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of a fire.

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