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Electrical Safety

How to avoid electrical fires

  • Always check that you use the right fuse to prevent overheating.
  • Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it.
  • Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.
  • Try and keep to one plug per socket.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reasons, or flickering lights.
  • Check and replace any old cables and leads, especially if they are hidden from view - behind furniture or under carpets and mats.
  • Unplugging appliances helps reduce the risk of fire.
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them or when you go to bed.

Safe use of extensions and adapters

An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload it.

Appliances use different amounts of power - a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example.

Remember high wattage appliances such as irons or hairdryers should not be plugged into the spare sockets on an extension as they can easily overload them.

When adding an appliance to an extension or adapter consider the total power requirement of the appliances and do not exceed the extension or adapters amp limit. The socket calculator below should help you determine if the combination is safe for your extension.

Inform Your Children

Ensure even the youngest members of your family are aware of the importance of electrical safety in the home by ensuring they visit the Electrical Safety Councils website for kids. They will be educated whilst being entertained by the games and quizzes.

Keep electrical appliances clean and in good working order to prevent them triggering a fire.

Portable heaters

  • Put your heater on a level surface, well away from anything that could knock it over.
  • Make sure your heater is at least a metre away from combustible materials, such as paper, furniture or curtains. Never use it to dry your clothes!
  • Never leave your heater unattended whilst in use.
  • Never leave you heater on while you are asleep.
  • Never power a heater from an extension lead – they can easily be overloaded and cause fires.
  • Regularly inspect your heater for damage and deterioration. If it isn’t in good condition, don’t use it!
  • Avoid using second hand heaters. Make sure you buy from recognised manufacturers and retailers.
  • Unless specifically designed, do not use an electric heater in a bathroom or an area of high humidity and remember not to touch the heater if you are wet or have wet hands.

Tumble dryer, washing machine & dishwasher fires

We would like to remind householders to follow some simple safety advice when using tumble dryers, washing machines or dishwashers.

We are always urging people to be aware of the risks associated with washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers. These tips will help reduce your chances of suffering this sort of fire.

General safety

Don't leave the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running overnight or while you are out. They are a fire risk because of their high wattage, friction and motors.

Tumble dryer safety

  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions
  • Don't use tumble dryers at night or while unattended
  • Items should be removed from the dryer immediately after the cycle and shaken loose to assist cooling
  • Don't overload plug sockets. Ensure that no more than 13 amps are in any one plug socket.
  • Remove the lint from the trap after every load of clothes dried. Do not cover the vent or any other opening.
  • Ensure the vent pipe is free of kinks and is not crushed in any way. Only use recommended vent pipes, and not improvised ones.
  • Only vent the warm air to the outside of a building. Do not put rags or materials into your tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids.

Tell-tale signs that your tumble dryer is not properly ventilated

  • Clothes take a very long time to dry, especially heavy articles of clothing such as towels or jeans Clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of the cycle.
  • The flapper on the vent hood remains closed when the dryer is on.

Click here to see a short video (from Cleveland Fire Brigade) showing how to clean a Tumble Dryer Filter that is housed in the machine - but please be aware that there may be other filters in your machine and you need to check the manufacturers manual for full details.

Local Government Information

Click here to read more about the Local Government Agency Tumble Dryer Safety message

The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA)

The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA) have launched a scheme to improve ownership data in case a safety repair or recall is needed. This way they can easily contact you should they need to, and you can register all your appliances in one place. See for more information on this fantastic scheme.”

CE Mark Confusion

WARNING! Don’t get confused between the CE mark and the China Export Mark!

Don't overload a socket or extension beyond its rated limit

Never use an appliance that has a worn or damaged cable or flex.

The Fire Resistance label means that the covering and filling of a piece of furniture is match and cigarette resistant but it will still burn if ignited in another way.