London Fire Brigade

Make sure your Bank Holiday doesn’t go with a bang

25 August 2010

Faulty electrical items, overloaded plug sockets and dodgy wiring cause hundreds of fires across London each year. That’s why firefighters are asking people to check for electrical fire risks in their homes this Bank Holiday.

New figures from the London Fire Brigade show that there are over 600 fires involving electrical appliances in the capital’s homes each year. More than 300 of these are a result of faulty equipment or dodgy wiring. Items like microwaves, washing machines, lightbulbs and tumble dryers are amongst the top offenders. Over 600 people have been injured, and 19 have died as a result of electrical fires over the past five years.

Andy Hickmott, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Community Safety, said: “Most households have many more electrical items in use today compared to just a few years ago. It’s tempting to plug different sorts of electrical equipment into one socket but I’d really advise against that. Sockets can quickly overheat and this can lead to serious fires”.

“Electrical appliances and plugs and cables that are old or poorly wired can also be a real danger. Just because there’s no flame, doesn’t mean there’s no fire risk. I’d urge you to check all of your electrical items this Bank Holiday to avoid tragedy.”

Electrical fire dangers to look out for in the home:

·Hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights – all are signs of loose wiring or electrical problems.

·Badly wired plugs – any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could get into the plug.

·Overloaded sockets – this can lead to overheating.

·Frayed / damaged wires – make sure the outer covering of all power leads is in good condition and replace if necessary.

·Don’t leave electrical appliances on at night – unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers.

·Don’t put anything in the microwave that is made of metal.

The Brigade’s reminder to Londoners about electrical safety this Bank Holiday is being backed by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC).

Angela Murphy from the ESC said: “It’s easy to forget just how dangerous electricity can be – it’s everywhere and it’s invisible. We always advise people to use a registered electrician to undertake installation work and we urge people not to buy fake electrical goods – which are often substandard.

“We have also recently launched a Plug into Safety campaign, to get more people to use a residual current device. An RCD provides much better protection than just ordinary fuses and circuit breakers and works by switching off the electricity in a fraction of a second if you get an electric shock. It could make the difference between life and death. RCDs are particularly important when using mains powered tools or electrical equipment outdoors – and gardening and DIY tend to be popular Bank Holiday activities.”



Notes to editors


For further fire safety information on electrical equipment, go to:


The Brigade recommends that electrical appliances, especially ones that run at high speeds and contain motors, like washing machines, should be serviced once a year by a qualified electrician.