Charity finds that the UK’s animal lovers are putting their pets at risk of electrical fire

11 November 2015

Charity finds that the UK’s animal lovers are putting their pets at risk of electrical fire

  • Electrical Safety First estimates that thousands of pets have been lost in electrical fires
  • Two thirds of the nation’s pet owners have left mobile phone chargers unattended – a major cause of electrical fires
  • Risk of electrical fires greater for pet owners as they make basic blunders that put their pets and loved ones at risk

Leading charity Electrical Safety First has found that the UK’s animal lovers are putting millions of beloved pets in danger by exposing them to electrical hazards in the home. New research from Electrical Safety First has found that pet owners are taking unnecessary risks that contribute to the 20,000 accidental electrical fires[i] that start in UK homes each year.

Unsurprisingly, two thirds of pet owners[ii] say they would consider their pet to be a greater loss than material possessions in the event of a fire. Yet the Charity’s research found that pet owners are taking disproportionate risks when it comes to basic electrical safety, and that around 60,000 people have lost pets in electrical fires.[iii]

Nearly two thirds[iv] of pet owners admitted to leaving mobile phones charging unattended or leaving the washing machine or dishwasher to run while they were out or asleep. And one in ten[v] had left a portable heater switched on unattended – particularly risky with pets running around and likely to knock things over. Thirty-seven per cent of pet owners had also failed to check that sockets were not overloaded. As over 10,000 accidental house fires each year are caused by the misuse of electrical products, this is a huge concern for the charity.

Emma Apter, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First, said: “Pets are a part of the family and nobody wants to think of them helpless in the event of a fire. During Electrical Fire Safety Week, we would like to encourage everybody to help keep their pets and the whole family safe by taking simple steps to improve the electrical safety in their homes that will help prevent fires and the devastation and upset that they can cause.”

In September this year, Sarana de Sousa, of West Sussex, awoke at about 4 a.m. to find her house filled with smoke. Her refrigerator had caught fire due to an electrical fault. She quickly grabbed Chunky, her Jack Russell Terrier, who was breathing but only semi-conscious. Luckily, Sarana and Chunky made it out of their home safely, but it was heavily damaged by fire and it will be at least six months before they can move back in.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is also joining Electrical Safety First in advising pet owners to look out for potential fire hazards in the home.

Carly Whyborn, Head of Communications at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said: “It’s frightening to think how many fires in homes are unwittingly started by electrical appliances being left unattended. Battersea urges all pet owners to protect themselves and their pets, especially as we enter the winter months. Stay alert to any potential risks in your home and keep everyone safe, including your pet.”

Electrical Safety First has produced a short video that shows what a cat and dog might get up to when left at home alone. It starts with the typical fun antics you might expect, but takes a serious turn when a phone charger that has been left plugged in catches fire. You can watch the film and follow the Charity’s advice on the simple things that can be done to reduce the risk of electrical fires at


For more information please contact:

Christina Copp e: t: 020 3463 5129

Muireann Kirby e: t: 020 3463 5105

Editors’ Notes

Electrical Safety First is a UK Charity dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and damage caused by electricity. For more information please visit

All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was conducted from 7th – 8th October 2015 by Populus on behalf of Electrical Safety First with a sample of 2,072 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults.


[i] Number of fires of electrical origin for 2011/12. Data supplied by Fire Statistics Great Britain, made available by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

[ii] 65% of pet owners said that the family pet would be the biggest loss in a fire, compared to 43% of the general population

[iii] 2% of pet owners say they have lost pets in electrical fires. Figure is based on the UK adult population of 49.8 million

[iv] 65% of pet owners left mobile phones charging unattended (compared to 63% of the general population) and 60% left the washing machine/dishwasher running (compared to 59% of the general population)

[v] 11% of pet owners left portable heaters switched on and unattended (compared to 10% of the general population)