Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning people not to let electrical failures or accidents set their world alight as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week this 23-29 January.
"Electrical equipment is an inescapable part of all our lives but half of all accidental fires begin with an electrical appliance."
Head of Risk Reduction, Glynn Luznyj
Shocking statistics show that half of all accidental house fires in 2010/11 were caused by faulty or misused electrical equipment.
In 2010/11, faulty or misused electrical products were responsible for almost 400 fires across Staffordshire with 73% of those fires taking place in the kitchen. One in five people involved in the incidents was elderly and 28% of the properties had no smoke alarms fitted.
From faulty washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers to dodgy plugs and wiring, electrical equipment can be an unnoticed fire hazard in the home.
Head of Risk Reduction, Glynn Luznyj said: "Electrical equipment is an inescapable part of all our lives, from essentials like heating and lights to luxuries like entertainment systems or electrical beauty appliances. Half of all accidental fires begin with an electrical appliance, so it’s really important to be sure that your electrics are in good working order and are used properly.
"Most electrical fires start in the kitchen, so be extra careful with cooking equipment. Fire in the home can be devastating, but many of these fires are preventable and every individual can take steps to help themselves by checking that the electrical equipment they use every day is in good shape and is operated properly.
"By following some simple steps, you can help keep you and your loved ones safe from fire. This includes ensuring you have working smoke alarms on each level of the home – over 100 homes involved in electrical fires in 2010/11 did not have any alarms fitted at all.
"There is no excuse not to have working smoke alarms. As a Service, we provide and fit them for free and it takes just a few seconds each week to make sure they’re working properly."
Other electrical fire safety tips:
• Don’t overload plug sockets
• Regularly check for worn or frayed wires
• Unplug appliances when not in use
• Keep appliances clean and in good working order
• Consider using an RCD – Residual Current Device - which works like a circuit breaker to protect against electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires
• Make sure heaters are kept clear from curtains, furniture and any other combustible items
• Heaters should never be used for drying clothing
To help keep you and your family safe from fire, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service provide free Home Fire Risk Checks and, where necessary, free smoke alarms. By calling 0800 0241 999 you can arrange for a firefighter to visit your home and offer fire safety advice specific to you and your household.