Millions of grime fires started in UK kitchens

23 September 2013

Electrical Fire Safety Week - Grime Fires

The Electrical Safety Council reveals fire risks of dirty and messy kitchens as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week

  • Millions confess to causing a fire through dirty and messy kitchens
  • Busy lifestyles mean cleaning is not a priority, putting households at risk
  • Half of house fires start in the kitchen.
  • The Electrical Safety Council is working with the Government’s Fire Kills campaign to offer tips for staying safe

Four million people have experienced a grime fire in their kitchen according to research released today by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC)  to mark Electrical Fire Safety Week.

Grime fires are the result of dirty and messy kitchens and are caused by the ignition of excess fat in cooking appliances, clutter stored by heat sources catching fire, or by dirt, dust and crumbs blocking ventilation and causing products to overheat.

As grime fires are often caused by hidden dirt or overlooked mess, they can easily be avoided by thoroughly cleaning the kitchen on a regular basis and tidying away mess. Yet research from the ESC shows that a third of people can’t remember the last time their oven or the area behind their fridge was cleaned , one in seven admit to regularly blocking vents with objects, and one in ten even confess to leaving flammable items next to heat sources .

These unseen or overlooked fire risks are particularly worrying since more than half of all house fires are started by kitchen appliances (21,036 out of 37,061 house fires last year) . The build up of dust, dirt and grime is also responsible for thousands of serious burns or broken electrical appliances in the kitchen .

Hectic lifestyles are often to blame for not cleaning the kitchen properly, and common excuses include being too busy or battling other priorities . And a fifth of people confess to putting themselves at risk because they are just too lazy to clean as well as they should .

It is families who are particularly hard-pushed for time, with two fifths confessing that they find it difficult to keep their house clean and tidy – extending to two thirds of parents with children under five years old .

Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: “People are increasingly busy and have so much going on it’s easy for cleaning to take a backseat, but a build up of grime, dust and even food crumbs in kitchen appliances can cause fires or stop them working.

“Grime can often build up without you realising, so you might think you have a clean kitchen but if you look closer there can be an electrical fire waiting to happen. I’d urge everyone to clean their appliances as often as possible, and take care not to leave objects lying around in the kitchen that could ignite or block ventilation.”

The ESC conducted the research, to raise awareness of electrical fires in the kitchen as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week (23rd – 27th September 2013), run in partnership with the Government’s Fire Kills campaign. As electricity is the cause of 350,000 serious injuries each year and half of all house fires, the charity is urging everyone to follow their simple tips to stay safe in the kitchen more broadly:

  • Clean your oven and grill on a regular basis to avoid the build up of excess fat
  • Check your plug sockets are not overloaded with too many electrical appliances as this can lead to overheating
  • Avoid storing objects on top of appliances like the microwave, which can block ventilation
  • Defrost your fridge and freezer at least once a year to ensure these appliances continue to work properly
  • Ensure you have a working smoke detector in case something does go wrong
  • Visit www.esc.org/kitchensafety for more information and tips on avoiding electrical fires

TV’s clean queen Aggie Mackenzie is supporting the campaign and adds: “I’ve seen so many grotesque kitchens whilst filming How Clean is Your Home? But this campaign shows that it’s not just the obvious clutter and dirt we should be concerned about. It’s also vital that we all take the time to clean inside and around appliances in our kitchen. Over and above being a bad habit, unclean kitchens can actually cause dangerous grime fires.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The Electrical Safety Council is a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. Visit www.esc.org.uk for more information.
  • All consumer research unless otherwise stated was conducted between 21st – 22nd August 2013 by Populus on behalf of the Electrical Safety Council with a sample of 2050 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults

For more information please contact Penny Walshe on 020 3463 5125 or at penny.walshe@electricalsafeteyfirst.org.uk