When it comes to fire safety at home, it seems that some of us have got into some bad habits

Almost all household electrical fires start in the kitchen and a whopping two fifths of them are caused by the way we use our appliances, research by safety charity Electrical Safety First has shown.

Here, we reveal some of the worst electrical fire safety mistakes the nation is making – what’s more, we’ve got the advice you need to put them right!
Pin this article for later! For more, follow Good Housekeeping on Pinterest. 1. Leaving electrical appliances running unattended
Ever left the dishwasher to run overnight when you go to bed? Or set the washing machine timer to start a load while you’re at work? Or popped to the shops while the tumble dryer is part-way through a cycle?

If you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions, you won’t be the only one. Over half of British people admit to leaving appliances running while they’re either out of the house or asleep. But this is a risky strategy, warns Phil Buckle of Electrical Safety First: ‘If you’re asleep or out of the house when a problem occurs, you can’t react quickly enough to raise the alarm and so you are putting your home, those you live with and those that live near you at risk.’

If you don’t have enough time to run an entire tumble dryer cycle before bed, (and let’s face it, there never are enough hours in the day, are there?), it might be tempting to pause it part way through and restart it in the morning. But Electrical Safety First advises against doing this wherever possible, due to the heat that will already have built up inside the dryer. If you need something for the morning, you’re better off using a shorter tumble dryer cycle or setting the dryer to run for a specific period of time before bedtime to part-dry your clothes. Shake them out, the hang them overnight to finish drying naturally on a clothes dryer.

And instead of using the timer on the washing machine to start a load while you’re out, place your laundry in the drum before you leave the house and add the detergent ready to start the cycle when you get home. You can always set a reminder on your phone, if you’re worried you’ll forget!
2. Leaving it too long before you clean the oven
More than one in six admit to having left the oven or grill for over a year between cleans, but a build-up of fat and grease is a major cause of fires.

‘If you struggle to find the time to keep your oven clean, make things easier for yourself by lining the base of your oven with an easy-clean oven sheet,’ advises Katie Mortram from the Good Housekeeping Institution. ‘The Magic Oven Liner from Lakeland does the job well and comes in different sizes. A clean baking sheet placed on the lowest rack in your oven is also an effective way to stop spills becoming burnt onto the oven floor.’

Another handy tip is to put a heat-resistant bowl of water inside a hot oven for 20 minutes once you’ve finished cooking. The steam will loosen dirt and grease so that they can be wiped away more easily once the oven is cool enough.
3. Storing objects on top of the microwave
Having things stashed on the top of the microwave is another example of a seemingly harmless habit that can increase the risk of an electrical fire.

‘Storing objects on top of your microwave can block the air vents which are designed to allow the product to cool down,’ Phil Buckle explains. ‘If the microwave overheats, there’s a fire risk – so we strongly advise that you avoid doing this.’

Instead, keep a kitchen drawer clear to temporarily store things until you have time to tidy them away properly later – you will actually have to do this last bit to avoid the drawer becoming too full, though!

If you find yourself regularly storing kitchenware on the microwave, invest in a shelf insert such as the Add A Shelf organiser from Lakeland to increase the amount of usable storage space in your cupboards.
4. Wrapping the cable around a small appliance when it’s still warm
In the kitchen, the devices we’re most likely to do this with are stand-alone hotplates or grills, according to the Electrical Safety First research. Again, this is a no-no where electrical safety is concerned, as wrapping cables around hot or warm appliances can melt or damage the outer insulation of the cable. Always leave small appliances to cool fully before wrapping their cables around them ready to be stowed away.
5. Not defrosting the freezer regularly
If your freezer isn’t a frost-free model, the electrical safety charity recommends defrosting it at least once a year to ensure it continues to work properly. It’ll also save you money in the long-run as it will work more efficiently and use less energy if it’s not choked up with ice.

‘Don’t forget to place towels on the floor around the freezer to soak up water from melting ice before you start,’ cautions the GHI’s Verity Mann. ‘To speed up the process, place bowls of hot water carefully inside the freezer cavity. And don’t be tempted to use a hairdryer, for obvious safety reasons!’

Image: iStock
Source: Good Housekeeping UK 
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