Shock figures highlight electrical fires risk

Two thirds of people risk losing their home to fire by dangerously overloading electrical sockets, shock new figures show.

The extraordinary findings, announced ahead of a major fire service safety campaign, reveal most people in South Yorkshire have no idea know how much electricity extension leads and multi-plug adaptors can take.

Most adaptors can only take a total of 13 amps, but overloaded leads caused dozens of house fires in the county last year alone.

Multi-plug adaptors are easily overloaded because even though they might have several sockets, the fuse ratings of individual appliances could be enough to spark a fire, with high-powered equipment like irons and hair straighteners using 20 amps just on their own.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Diane Malpass said: “It’s frightening how many people don’t realise that they are putting their homes and families at risk by misusing adaptors in this way.”

“The simple advice is to check what equipment you’re plugging into extension leads and read the labels at the end of each plug to make sure it’s not going to cause a blaze.”

Other findings in the survey of more than 500 people show nearly one in five admit to plugging high-powered electrical items like kettles, toasters, irons and even washing machines into extension leads - another massive cause of house fires.

Three quarters of people also say they fail to switch electrical appliances like televisions off at the mains at night - sparking a debate about how far people should go to stay safe.

“Common sense should tell you that you are putting yourself in real danger if you leave things like heaters, irons and washer dryers plugged in at night,” said Diane. “Other things like televisions and Sky boxes are safer, but we still recommend switching them off at the plug before bed if it’s easy to do so.”