Department for Communities and Local Government
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Smart app to help defuse fire danger

As shocking statistics show that half of all accidental house fires were caused by faulty or misused electrical equipment in 2010/11, the Fire Kills campaign is highlighting a smartphone app from the Electrical Safety Council which will help people defuse the danger in their homes.

From faulty fridges and forgotten irons, to overloaded plugs and dodgy wiring - electrical equipment can be an unnoticed fire hazard in the home.  And with the recent cold weather, many sockets could still be overloaded with additional space heaters and electric blankets.

In 2010-11, accidental fires in the home caused by faulty or misused electrical products resulted in nearly 40 deaths across the country. As part of Electrical Fire Safety Week - 23 - 29 January - we're asking people to look around their homes, identify all the potential risks and take extra care when using electricity.

The Electrical Safety Council's app helps people identify risks in their home and offers advice on resolving them.

The Government's Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight said:

"Electrical equipment is an inescapable part of all our lives, from essentials like heating and lights to luxuries like entertainment systems or beauty products. 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. By following some simple steps, you can help keep you and your loved ones safe from fire."

Lorraine Carney Senior Campaigns Manager at the Electrical Safety Council said:

"With electricity such an integral part of our lives it is understandable that people tend to take it for granted. But that doesn't mean we can forget basic safety precautions. There is a worrying gap between the public's perception of electrical danger and the reality, with people making simple yet potentially fatal errors that can be easily prevented"

"The ESC's free 'Home Electrical Safety Check' app was designed to bridge that gap. We wanted to create something which people would find simple to use and hope that they will download it, check their homes and take corrective action".

Every individual can take steps to help themselves by checking that the electrical equipment they use everyday is in good shape and is operated properly:

  • 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 a Residual Current Device which works like a circuit breaker to protect against electric shocks and reduces the risk of electrical fires.

The Electrical Safety Council advises that heaters should be kept clear from curtains and furniture and should never be used for drying clothes. Your electric blanket should be unplugged before you go to bed, unless it has a thermostat for safe all-night use.

Notes to Editors

1. The Electrical fire safety council has launched a smartphone app to help people identify and resolve any safety issues in their home. Download the app from: www.esc.org.uk/public/news-and-campaigns/press-releases/news/article/millions-in-uk-risking-lives-with-basic-electrical-blunders/ (external link).

2. For more information on fire safety please visit: www.facebook.com/firekills (external link) or speak to your local Fire and Rescue Service.

3. For more information on the Electrical Safety Council, please visit: www.esc.org.uk (external link). The website also holds information on their 'Plug Into Safety' campaign.

4. A residual current device - known as 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. It provides a level of protection that ordinary fuses or circuit-breakers cannot provide. Residual current device protection is particularly important when using electrical equipment outdoors.

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