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How to spot fire hazards

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) is urging people to look out for the telltale signs of faulty electrics as part of a drive to cut the number of house fires it attends.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) is urging people to look out for the telltale signs of faulty electrics as part of a drive to cut the number of house fires it attends

With the latest statistics showing that half of all accidental house fires across the UK in 2010/11 were caused by faulty or misused electrical equipment, SYFR’s firefighters joined forces with the Electrical Safety Council to make sure people know the risks and take care when using electrics in their home.

They are urging all householders and electricians to look out for anything unusual, including:
• Burn marks on a plug or socket
• Sounds of buzzing or crackling
• Fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping
Diane Malpass, SYFR’s Head of Community Safety, said: “Electrical equipment is an inescapable part of all of our lives, from essentials like heating and lights to luxuries like entertainment systems or beauty products. Half of all accidental fires begin with an electrical appliance, so it’s really important to be sure that your electrics are in good working order and are used properly.

“Most electrical fires start in the kitchen, so be extra careful around cooking equipment. Fire in the home can be devastating, but many of these fires are preventable. By following some simple steps, you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe from fire.”

SYFR also says that with the recent cold weather, many sockets could be overloaded with heaters and electric blankets. Last year, they attended around 400 fires caused by faulty or misused electrical products, with 113 of these happening in the winter months.

In 2010, accidental electrical fires in the home resulted in nearly 40 deaths across the UK, and SYFR is working hard to bring this number down but adds that every individual can take steps to help themselves by checking that the electrical equipment they use everyday is in good shape and is operated properly. The fire service offer useful tips to reduce the risk of electrical fires:
• Do not overload plug sockets
• Regularly check for worn or frayed wires
• Unplug appliances when not in use
• Keep appliances clean and in good working order
• 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

The Electrical Safety Council advises that heaters should be kept clear from curtains and furniture and should never be used for drying clothes, while electric blankets should be unplugged before going to bed, unless it has a thermostat for safe all-night use.

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