#TuesdayTips - Home Safety Week highlights danger of white goods

Posted 27 September 2016 by Ben Salisbury

This week is Home Safety Week and home insurer NFU Mutual highlights the dangers of white goods and offers practical tips on keeping your home safe...

Home Safety Week takes place this week, from 26 September to 2 October and this year the focus is on fires caused by home appliances, particularly white goods.

Home insurer NFU Mutual has revealed that it paid out £25m in claims relating to home fires in 2015, with over half, 52%, of the claims came from accidents associated with electrical fires.

Nicki Whittaker, a High Value Home specialist at NFU Mutual said: “Where household appliances were directly responsible for causing fire, cookers, dishwashers and fridges/freezers were the worst offenders. Tumble driers, electric blankets and irons were also named as a source of home fires.

“It will come as a great shock to many householders to learn that everyday appliances designed to make life easier could present a fire risk. We urge homeowners never to overload plug sockets, regularly check for frayed or worn cables and wires and to unplug appliances when not in use.

“Programming appliances such as tumble driers or dishwashers to run while homeowners are at work or asleep could also expose people to increased risk if a fire does occur and it goes without saying smoke alarms should be fitted and regularly tested.”

With that in mind, NFU Mutual has offered some top tips to help people stay safe in their own home and to revise the important do’s and don’ts when it comes to using electrical appliances.

Electrical fires

Many electrical fires can be avoided by following some simple actions:

  • Don't use imitation electrical chargers as they may be unsafe
  • Make sure electrical appliances have a British or European safety mark when you buy them
  • Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order
  • Unplugging appliances and chargers when you are not using them or when you go to bed helps reduce the risk of fire
  • Hair straighteners can get extremely hot. Always switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface
  • Keep to one plug per socket
  • If you use an adaptor, use a fused 'in line' type. The adaptor or extension lead will have a limit of how much power it can safely provide so be careful not to overload sockets
  • If using a cable drum extension lead, it should be completely unwound to avoid overheating
  • Remember: scorch marks, flickering lights, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that low or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons could be signs of loose or dangerous wiring

Using an electric blanket

  • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring
  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
  • Never use an electric blanket if you have an air flow pressure relief mattress, or use paraffin based emollient creams. Ask for non-flammable alternatives instead
  • Do not buy second-hand electric blankets
  • Check regularly for wear and tear and replace your electric blanket every 10 years
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