Electrical fire safety week in West Sussuex

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FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to be aware of electrical failures as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week.

From faulty fridges and ignored irons to dodgy plugs and wiring, electrical equipment is an often overlooked fire hazard in the home. Faulty or misused electrical equipment is one of the biggest causes of accidental house fires in the country.

In West Sussex, in 2011 alone, there were 122 electrical fires, accounting for over quarter of all accidental fires that crews were called to.

Community risk reduction manager for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Kathy Burke, said: “Electrical equipment is a common and necessary part of our everyday lives, from essentials like heating and lighting to more hi-tech items like entertainment systems, so it’s really important to be sure that electrical equipment is in good working order and is operated properly.

“Appliances, plugs and cables that are old, or poorly wired, can be a danger. Try and look out for the warning signs - hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that continually blow, a burning smell coming from the appliance or wiring, flickering lights - all these are signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems,” said Kathy.

“The truth is most fires are preventable. It’s so easy to think it’s not going to happen to you, but people really can’t afford to be complacent where electrical safety is concerned. By following some simple steps, you can help keep you and your loved ones safe from fire.”

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service offers the following safety advice:

. Don’t overload plug sockets

. Regularly check for worn or frayed wires

. Ideally, get electrical appliances that run at high speed or contain motors, like washing machines, serviced once a year by a qualified electrician

. Don’t leave washing machines, dishwashers or tumble dryers on overnight or while you are out

. Unplug appliances when not in use

. 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

. If using an electric blanket ensure you switch it off and unplug it before you go to bed unless it has a thermostat for safe all-night use

. Keep heaters clear of curtains and furniture and do not use them to dry clothes

. Get an early warning rather than no warning - make sure you have a smoke detector on each level of your home and don’t forget to pull your finger out for that weekly test!

Could you or someone you know benefit from a free Home Fire Safety Check? Call 01243 642878 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire to find out if you are eligible.