Consumer: Plug into electrical fire safety in Leeds

Fire warning: Usafe electrics were behind 112 fires in Leeds so far this year.
Fire warning: Usafe electrics were behind 112 fires in Leeds so far this year.
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Fire chiefs have issued a warning to residents across Leeds as they begin to switch on electrical appliances this winter.

With the nights getting colder, many will be turning equipment on across their homes to keep warm, cosy and well-fed - but West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has this week issued a warning about the potentially dangerous electrics.

Unsafe electrics were the cause behind over 350 fires already this year, with 112 in Leeds alone.

Of these, 59 were due to a fault in the appliance, seven were due to faulty leads and 11 because of negligent use of equipment or an appliance.

A further 11 fires were due to overheating and 23 due to faulty fuel supply.

Nine involved cooking appliances, 13 washing machines or dryers and eight fires involved heating equipment - a figure fire chiefs fear could rise as winter sets in.

Lisa Toner, district prevention manager for Leeds, said: “Within Leeds we have attended 112 fires that have been attributed to electrical appliances. Top tips to reduce the likelihood of having an electrical fire are to ensure electrical appliances are in good working order and well maintained, do not overload plug sockets, use the correct chargers for appliances and switch appliances off when not in use.”

The warning comes during national Electric Fire Safety Week, from November 10-16, which is led by Government organisation Fire Kills in conjunction with Electrical Safety First, a charity aiming to reduce deaths and injury caused by electricity in the home.

Across the UK, figures show around 70 people die and 350,000 are seriously injured each year each year due to electrical related incidents.

These incidents could easily be avoided by making simple checks, for little or no cost, to identify and rectify possible dangers.

Fire safety tips from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service include:

** Carry out a visual check of your electrics – make sure appliance leads are not near hot surfaces and sockets are not overloaded.

** Keep combustible materials away from sources of heat - don’t store combustible materials close to their electrical intake equipment (service head meter and/or consumer unit) in homes. For example, electrical intake equipment in a cupboard is used to store coats, cleaning materials and other things that ignite easily.

** Don’t overload plug sockets - an extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take so be careful not to overload them. Try to keep to one plug per socket.

** Check your electrical products have not been recalled. In the last six years, over 250 recall notices have been issued for electrical products, mostly due to a risk of electric shock or fire. Yet response rates are worryingly low with most recalls only achieving around 10-20 per cent.

** Avoid buying counterfeit or substandard goods - they contain incorrect or faulty parts that overheat or break, rising fire or serious shock. Faulty electrical goods cause thousands of house fires each year. If a bargain looks too good to be true, it probably is.

** Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order. Look out for fuses that blow, circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason and flickering lights.

** Regularly check for frayed or worn cables and wires - to see if the cable is fastened securely to the plug and check the socket for scorch marks.

** Switch off appliances at the socket when not in use.

** Buy electrical chargers from a reputable source. Many imported chargers do not satisfy UK safety regulations.

** Residual Current Device (RCD) - Fit and use RCD protection, if you do not already have it. An RCD is a life-saving device which is designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock if you touch something live, such as a bare wire.

For more information visit www.westyorksfire.gov.uk where you can also book a free Home Fire Safety Check on line. Or call 0800 5874536 or visit into your nearest fire station to make arrangements.

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