Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) is warning people to beware of untested items and appliances as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week (21 November – 27 November).
It comes after a fire broke out at Keith Purvis’ Washington home in Waskerley Road earlier this month after a battery he bought for his laptop on Ebay caused the device to explode shortly after he plugged it in.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, TWFRS attended 87 house fires involving faulty equipment and appliances, faulty leads or negligent use of electrical items.
In another incident in Mersey Street, Chopwell on 24 October, Fiona Teasdale’s kitchen was damaged by fire after an infra-red wall heating panel burst into flames just 30 minutes after it was switched on. The heating panel had no visible safety markings and had a European plug that needed an adaptor for use.
E-cigarette users should be aware of non-branded chargers after one exploded in a flat in Walker, Newcastle recently. Helen Plumeridge had plugged the USB charger into a socket in her lounge. A few minutes later she heard a loud pop and saw the back of the plug from the charger shoot across the room, before smoke and flames omitted from the charger and socket. The charger was completely destroyed and the electrical socket was severely damaged by fire.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Chris Lowther, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fortunately no-one was injured during these incidents, but as more and more cheap untested electrical items become available, so the chance of fire increases.
“Our advice is to always check products have markings indicating they have passed British safety standards and don’t be tempted to buy fake goods in the run up to Christmas. What may seem like a good deal at the time could cost you a lot more in the long run.
“I would also encourage everyone to fit smoke alarms on every level of their property and to test them monthly. We also recommend that everyone has a fire escape plan and knows what to do in the event of a fire.”
Safety advice and tips
*Never use water to extinguish an electrical fire.
*Never overload sockets and extension leads.
*Check electrical goods have passed the British Safety Standard.
*Switch off electrical items when you go out or go to bed.
*Regularly check cables and light fittings in commercial premises.
*For more electrical safety advice visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk or www.twfire.gov.uk