Grubby home habits help spark thousands of electrical fires

18 March 2011

Electrical safety in the kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home where families and friends come to meet and eat but dirty and chaotic kitchens are not just a health hazard – they can also be a fire risk.  Almost 13,000 [1] fires each year arise from the misuse of, and faults with, electrical cooking appliances.

Leading safety charity, the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) warns that over half of all accidental fires in UK homes – that’s more than 20,000 per year [2] - are caused by people’s casual attitude to electrical safety and misuse of electrical appliances.

“In our opinion – which is shared by the fire and rescue professionals we consulted -  a considerable number of kitchen fires occur through a casual attitude to cleaning and safety in kitchens,” explains Martyn Allen, Head of Technical Development at the  ESC. “And our research also indicates that over a quarter of Britons suspect at least one of their electrical appliances is faulty [3].”

Housekeeping guru Aggie MacKenzie agrees: “Allowing food and fat deposits to build up on cookers – or trailing leads across them - and using the tops of microwaves as extra storage and forgetting to remove things like tea towels draped over them, can all pose a safety risk. So clean up your act  - or you could end up burning a lot more than your toast!”

 “We live in an electric world, so it is understandable that people tend to take electricity for granted”, adds Martyn. “But that doesn’t mean we can forget basic safety precautions. And with an ever-increasing number of electric gadgets and cooking tools coming on to the market, we need to be a bit more safety conscious.”

Here’s the ESC’s three top tips for reducing the risk of an electrical fire in your home:

  1. Keep electrical appliances , particularly kitchen items such as cookers and microwaves, clean and free from grease.
  2. If an electrical appliance works erratically, has a flex or cable showing visible wear and tear, or you can smell burning when the appliance is in use, stop using it immediately.
  3. Avoid placing anything flammable too close to electric heaters, cookers or fires.

[1] Data Source: CLG fire statistics 2007
[2] Data Source: CLG fire statistics 2007
[3] Ipsos Mori April 2010 ESC Annual Consumer Survey

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