London Fire Brigade

Electrical equipment

Community safety campaign poster of electric plug sockets.

Fires in the home can be caused by faulty wiring in plugs and electrical appliances or electrical equipment not being used safely. A few simple checks and precautions can make all the difference to the safety of your home.

London Fire Brigade has launched a community fire safety campaign to spread key fire safety messages about issues like overloaded plug sockets. To read more about the Brigade’s community fire safety campaign please click on the image of the overloaded plug socket.

Wiring

If you notice any of the warning signs below, ask a qualified electrician to check your wiring.

  • Hot plugs and sockets.
  • Fuses that blow for no obvious reason.
  • Lights that flicker.
  • Brown scorch marks on sockets, plugs and fuse boxes.

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Electrical appliances

  • Turn off and unplug all electrical appliances when you are not using them except those that are meant to be permanently switched on (like the fridge or DVD recorder).
  • Make sure plugs have the correct fuse for the appliance being used. If in doubt, refer to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Use only one plug in each socket.
  • If you have to use an adapter, use a fused ‘in line’ type. 
  • Avoid multi-way adapters and overloading electric sockets by using several adapters as they may overheat.
  • Don't run leads or cables under carpets or rugs – you won't be able to see if they become damaged.
  • Check for signs of loose wiring and faulty plugs or sockets (such as scorch marks or flickering lights) and have any problems you find fixed by an electrician.
  • Replace worn, damaged or taped up leads and cables.
  • Find out if your electrical products are on trading standards product recall list, a list of items which have been recalled by the manufacturers. (See related links).
  • Always use a proper ironing board and turn off the iron after use. Make sure the iron is left to cool on a heat resistant surface away from curtains, carpets and anything else that may catch fire.
  • Always switch off hair straighteners/curling tongs after use and leave to cool on a heat resistant surface away from curtains, carpets and anything else that can catch fire.

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Electric blankets

If your blanket has fraying fabric, scorch marks, exposed elements, creasing/folding, soiling, loose connections or any other type of damage, have it replaced. If the blanket has a BEAB safety mark it should also be replaced as this means it is over ten years old.

  • Electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark (BSK) and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them. 
  • Don’t fold electric blankets. Protect the wiring inside them by storing them flat or rolled up. 
  • Don’t leave an electric blanket switched on all night, unless it is has controls for safe all night use.   
  • Check whether it is an under or over blanket and use it only for that purpose.
  • Use the ties on an under-blanket to secure it to the mattress. This prevents slipping and creasing which could damage the elements.   
  • Have your electric blanket tested every three years – many councils run free testing days each year, usually at the end of summer.
  • Get a new electric blanket at least every 10 years.

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Related links