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How to Ensure Electrical Safety at Home with your Gadgets & Technology

You can have all the gadgets and technology in the world but they’d be nothing without the electricity to make them work.

But with half all all accidentals fires in UK homes caused by faulty or careless use of electrical appliances, those gadgets and technology items could also prove very dangerous.

This week is Electrical Fire Safety Week running until Sunday, and organisers warn millions of Brits could be exposing themselves to problems.

Common electrical appliance mistakes

Simple mistakes could include plugging in the likes of your Apple iPhone 5 or other smartphone to charge up in an overloaded socket or buying an unfit replacement charger for your Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus 7 or other tablet computer. Those items themselves are not dangerous but if not used correctly, any electrical appliance can be.

The ESC say an average of 22 people die each year as a result of an electrical accident at home with 2,500 seriously injured and nearly 15,000 fires started.

Among the problems cited are overloading adaptor and extension sockets, causing an unsafe rise in temperature, a mistake unwittingly made by one in six of the public.

Don’t let burning smells be your warning

Nearly 10% leave an electrical appliance on while unattended, only to be alerted by a burning smell while a whopping 44% block air vents by failing to clean behind their fridge, freezer or dual fridge-freezer.

A third are also guilty of blocking the air vents on a microwave while using it by turning it into an additional surface to keep books, plates or other equipment on.

Three quarters of UK adults admit to at least one safety blunder and since 2009, fires caused by misuse of appliances have increased by more than a third, despite other hazards like chip pan fires and those caused by smoking falling.

It comes as high risk appliances in our homes such as microwaves and tumble dryers have increased in their millions.

Electrical fires are preventable

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council, said:

“People think that they are behaving safely but the majority of people we surveyed had put themselves at risk by unknowingly making a safety blunder. Fires caused by misuse of appliances – the vast majority of which are electrical – are so easy to prevent but they will keep increasing unless people understand the simple things that can and do cause fires.”

“Most accidents are preventable and the ESC is here to help you. Protect yourself, your home and your family by following our simple tips, installing RCD protection in your fuse box or testing your current knowledge in our Facebook blunder quiz.”

In a bid to catch the imagination of the British public, the ESC has created a quiz on Facebook and produced an app, available in the iTunes App Store for the iPhone or iPad as well as on Google Play for Android smartphones and devices.

Download the app for iOS & iPhone or Android smartphones

The app guides you through the home allowing you to tick instructional check boxes as you go, showing you how wires should look, what an RCD (Residual Current Device) in the fuse box is and how to spot dangerous plugs, switches and sockets. You can then flag any potentially dangerous issues to be checked out by a professional electrician.

» Download for iOS » Download for Android

It also provides tips when using electrical items outdoors and shows what kind of external sockets and cabling will offer the right protection.

Other advice includes wearing rubber soled shoes or boots when mowing the lawn to avoid electric shock and avoiding draping a tea towel over the fans and vents of kitchen appliances.

Remember to check your electric blanket this winter

And with the winter approaching, ensuring seasonal items such as electric blankets are in good condition along with their wiring, is a must. It should also be turned off and unplugged before going to sleep, unless it features a thermostat for overnight use.

Foreign appliances can also cause problems if they are not plugged in to a suitable UK convertor and plugging computers and other electronic devices into surge protection extension leads could help save them from being damaged should the power overload.

You can find the ESC’s Blunder Hunt Facebook quiz at http://www.facebook.com/ElectricalSafetyCouncil

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