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Many accidental house fires are caused by faulty electrics such as overloaded sockets and faulty electrical appliances.
Safety alert - exploding e-cigarettes
A nationwide alert has been issued warning of the dangers of fires caused by exploding e-cigarette chargers.
More than 100 fires have been blamed on the devices over the past two years.
Many blazes are taking place because some e-cigarette smokers are not using compatible chargers. This means too much current goes into the batteries, causing overheating, and then explosion, with battery material shooting metres out and causing a fire if it lands on anything combustible.
Cases that have emerged recently:
- e-cigarette chargers have included an e-cigarette user in Merseyside who popped out of his flat, returning to discover plumes of smoke pouring from his home after a charger exploded and set the kitchen ablaze.
- In another case, a 62-year-old man died after an e-cigarette battery on charge exploded and ignited oxygen equipment he was believed to have been using.
Mobile phones are considered essential nowadays. But do you know the dangers surrounding fake mobile phone chargers?
1.8 million chargers are bought on-line each year in the UK by mobile phone owners in search of a bargain.
Although it can be cheaper to buy imported, unofficial chargers, fake mobile phone chargers are often made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations. This means they can cause injury, electric shocks and even fires.
For specific advice about the importance of using the right chargers for iPhone, Blackberry, Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Motorola, LG and Sony mobile phones, visit the Electrical Safety First website.
We recommend you:
- Make sure you follow instructions for all electrical devices and that you use the correct chargers in line with the manufacturer’s guidance. If the wrong charger is used for an electrical device, the internal battery can’t handle a different voltage and it can catch fire.
- Stop using a charger if you suspect that it is faulty or fake.
- Do not use a charger if you have to force it into the wall socket, and don’t use it on an extension lead.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long to charge a product.
- Always buy from a shop you know and trust, an approved retailer or direct from the manufacturer of the same name as the device.
- When left plugged in overnight, phone chargers could overheat and cause fires.
- Particular fire risks are phones left charging on soft furnishings and covering a phone while it’s charging – DO NOT PLACE YOUR CHARGING MOBILE PHONE UNDER YOUR PILLOW AT NIGHT – the pillow will stop air from circulating around your battery to keep it cool, the build-up of heat can damage your battery and can cause it to start a fire
- Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods
- Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes
- Only use the charger supplied
- Ensure you purchase your e-cigarette from a reputable source
- Check the e-cigarette carries CE certification
- Test your smoke alarm regularly
- Contact Trading Standards over any e-cigarette safety concerns
How to charge e-cigarettes safely
- Always use the correct charger and follow the manufacturer's instructions
- Never charge a battery that has been damaged, dropped or struck
- Never plug a charger into a non-approved mains power transformer
- Check your battery has overcharge or overheat protection
- Don't overcharge. Remove the battery from charge when complete
- Never leave a charging battery unattended
- Don't use if wet
- Do not overtighten the atomiser when connecting it to the charger
- Always follow manufacturers' instructions for using your blanket. This will help you use and store it safely and prolong the life of your blanket. Store it flat or rolled and do not store other objects on top of it.
- Electric Blankets should be replaced every 10 years and tested every 2 years. Check with your local Age Concern office to see if anyone is testing in your area.
- Always check your blanket for scorch marks, water damage, mould or exposed wires. If you see any of these on your blanket do not use it, replace it.
- Never use a hot water bottle or drink fluids in bed when you have your electric blanket fitted to it. If you spill you drink or the water bottle leaks you will be mixing water and electricity.
The Danger signs - what to look for
- Plugs or sockets that are hot to the touch
- Plugs or sockets with scorch marks
- Fuses that blow for no reason
- Flickering lights
- Don't take chances with electricity. If you have any concerns, consult a qualified electrician
Socket Overload Calculator
Most people have extension leads in their homes, using 4-way bar adapters to increase the number of appliances that they can plug into a wall socket.
However, although there is space to plug in four appliances, this does not mean it is always safe to do so. Different electrical appliances use different amounts of power. To avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, you should never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of energy.
Use our calculator to plug in some typical household appliances to see the effect on the load, and to get useful tips on how to avoid overloading your sockets.
The Socket Calculator has been brought to you by Electrical Safety First.
For more safety information visit http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk