The main causes of electrical fires

The main causes of electrical fires

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Thousands of companies and households suffer an incredible amount of financial loss due to fire every year. When it comes to electrical fires in the workplace, around twelve thousand cases are either caused by misused, faulty or damaged electrical devices. Faulty devices also cover an array of potential fire hazards such as improper usage leading to overheating, damaged electrics and even loose device cables.

Statistics have also shown that more than half of businesses that suffer from a major fire are not able to recover, creating a huge impact on any business no matter how well-established it is.

There are a lot of things you should look out for to prevent these catastrophes from happening. As a business owner, you can take preventative measures and look for or prevent faulty electrical equipment, loose connections, faulty connections and overloading socket outlets by having your property inspected by a trained and licenced electrician.

Electrical fires affect more than 20,000 homes in the UK every year. A lot of these cases are caused by overloaded electrical sockets and extension wires. You should look out for potential electrical hazards and tackle them before they become destructive or even fatal.

For instance, you should inspect your home for electrical installations that are outdated, electrical sockets that are damaged, home appliances that are damaged or faulty, lighting fittings and cables that are loose. During the colder months, you should frequently inspect your portable heaters and christmas fairy lights to make sure they are working properly and not overheating.

There are many signs that indicate your home is in danger of an electrical fire. For instance, if your circuit breaker trips every now and then, that is a potential hazard that can be managed. Do you smell something burning in your home, taking notice of charred or discoloured switches or outlets? Finally, if your wiring is outdated, you should have it inspected and updated by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

These potential hazards are actually preventable if proper safety precautions are being practised. Before you decide what fire protection methods you should implement in your home or business, let us take a closer look at the other common causes of fire. 

  • Damaged electrical devices. Did you know that around twelve thousand cases of fires here in the UK are caused by electrical devices that are misused or damaged? Some of the reasons for this occurrence is the lack of proper device maintenance and inappropriate device handling. To prevent your devices from becoming potential hazards, check them for any visible signs of defect like frayed or loose cables or wiring. If any defect is found, have them replaced or repaired by an electrician immediately. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be initiated every year to ensure that all your electrical devices are working and keep them in good condition. 
  • Flammable materials. Combustible materials and wastes can contribute to fires. Take note of materials such as aerosol cans, isopropyl alcohol, gasoline, propane or oxidisers and keep them at least 3 feet away from electrical sockets, panels and any kind of heating devices. Other materials such as cardboard and paper waste can accumulate and become a fire hazard. They should be disposed of properly. 
  • Smoking. More than 30% of reported fires between 2014 and 2015 were actually caused by materials used by smokers such as pipe tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. Cigarettes are considered as one of the leading causes of home fire and fire-related deaths here in the UK each year. To keep your home safe, do not allow anyone to smoke inside. Instead, assign a designated area away from your home.
  • Human error. We are not perfect and are always prone to making mistakes. Human error, just like smoking, is considered as one of the leading causes of accidents in the work environment. To address this issue, all employees must be educated on the proper procedures to take in case a fire occurs. Your home and business premises must be equipped with fire extinguishers that are stationed in key areas and make sure every member of the family or staff should be able to use it properly. 
  • Arson. Sadly, not all fires are caused by accidents. Some of them are intentionally started with the sole purpose of creating major damage. This act can be accomplished by somebody who is holding a grudge or a total stranger. 

You need to stay vigilant and impose strict security and safety measures in your home or business. It is advisable to install security systems that can help monitor and protect your premises 24/7.

As we have mentioned earlier, recovering from a major fire is not easy. That is why it is important that you take a proactive stance and implement safety measures that can help prevent the risks of accumulating potential fire hazards or minimise the impact that it may bring to you and your business. 

When it comes to safety in the home, the following measures can be done:

  • Have your electrical installation inspected by a qualified electrician. After it is thoroughly inspected, request for an updated Electrical Installation Conditions Report (EICR).  
  • Have all equipment and devices regularly PAT tested by a licenced electrician.
  • Schedule a regular visual inspection of your electrical installation. 
  • Seek the advice of professionals if you notice anything that is suspicious (such as smelling something burning or electrical circuits frequently breaking).

When it comes to safety in the workplace, the following measures can be done:

  • Implement regular risk assessment activities.
  • Take note of tripping circuit breakers, blown fuses or flickering lights and report them immediately. 
  • Ensure that all appliances and devices have the British or European safety mark.
  • When using appliances and devices, ensure that they are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s manual.
  • Do not leave any appliance or device running overnight.
  • Have all appliances and devices PAT tested regularly because business owners are required by law to carry out this task. 
  • Make sure that all staff is trained on what to do in cases of emergencies.  
  • Place fire extinguishers in key areas of your business premises and make sure they are checked regularly too. 

Electrical and fire safety should become a vital concern for everyone. If you want to make sure that your electrical installation is safe, tested and certified, contact EJS Electrical on 01793 238806, 07725 228145 or today! Aside from fulfilling all your electrical requirements, they can also provide an emergency call out service for both domestic and commercial customers.

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