Nearly 1,900 fires were caused by electricity in Welsh homes over the last 5 years and it’s been estimated that almost 30,000 Welsh hones are at potentially serious risk due to old or damaged electrics.
Leading consumer safety charity, Electricity Safety First held an information event at the Senedd demonstrating to Assembly Members these potential dangers. They also discussed why Wales has the highest number of fires caused by electricity compared to other countries in the UK.
The Charity has highlighted how fires in older housing stock in Wales (a significant proportion of which was built before 1919), is linked to deteriorating electrics. Home Safety Visits in Wales are conducted by the Fire and Rescue Services, and they are a vital trusted service which can pick up potential dangers with electrics in people’s homes across the country, especially vulnerable people who live in older housing.
Ogmore Assembly Member Huw Irranca-Davies attended the event and said: “ A lot of people worry about winter fuel bills and use portable heaters and electric blankets to keep warm without heating their entire home. The Christmas period can also see sockets overloaded with many varieties of Christmas lights and electrical decorations etc.
Electrical Safety First’s campaign highlights how – by taking just a few moments to ensure electrical sockets, wires and cords are in good condition and sockets aren’t overloaded – can make a real difference to people’s safety. Taking simple steps like ensuring white goods are not used during the night, or when you go out of the house can also help prevent fires in homes across Ogmore.”
Robert Jervis-Gibbons, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First said: “Currently, Home Safety Visits – usually undertaken by Fire and Rescue Services – provide an opportunity for electrical problems to be identified”, but there needs to be adequate follow-up and a system in place to protect the most vulnerable and we are calling for a review on how Home Safety Visits operate in terms of electrical safety and ensure that there are proper funded referral processes for people who cannot afford to improve their electrics in their home. In the meantime, we are working with Assembly Members to keep everyone in Wales safe from electrical risk across the winter time when electricity in Wales is in greater use.”
The Charity is now calling on the Welsh Government to establish a dedicated scheme to fund electrical repairs in Welsh home to protect the most vulnerable.
Top Tips for electrical safety across the winter time include: –
- Consider fitting your fusebox with an RCD (Residual Current Device). It’s a life-saving device that switches the electricity off automatically if there is a fault. You can also buy plug-in RCDs for use in individual sockets.
- Don’t overload electrical adaptors by plugging too many appliances into one socket, especially those with a high electrical current rating such as kettles, irons and heaters. Visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/overloadingsockets to check that your sockets are safe.
- If you are using a portable heater to keep warm, keep it away from flammable materials like papers, curtains and furniture and never use one to dry your clothes.
- Turn off any electrical appliances that you are not using, particularly at night, when a fire can quickly spread unnoticed and cause more danger and damage.
- Check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
- Make sure that you have a working smoke alarm on each floor of your property – if a fire does start, this will give you a chance to get out safely and call 999 for help.