Electrical fire safety at home

Gadgets. Gizmos. Our homes are full of them. We’re surrounded by electrical appliances.

And that's before you even think about the plugs, cables, and metres of wiring that keep everything powered up.

One spark could start a fire. And it could come from anywhere. A worn-out wire behind the plasterwork. Or a socket that’s been overloaded.

But there are some things you can do to help stop an electrical fire happening.

Look out for the warning signs

There’s usually a clue something’s wrong before a fire starts. If you see any of these signs, ask a qualified electrician to have a look:

  • sparks or smoke around a socket
  • a smell of hot plastic or burning
  • blackness or scorch marks on a socket, plug or appliance
  • cracked, frayed or bare cables
  • melted plastic on cables or casings
  • fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that trip for no obvious reason.

A fire in your home could kill. Fires spread fast and can start day or night. The chance just isn’t worth taking.

And even if a fire doesn’t start, signs of electrical faults – like scorch marks round a plug socket – can put off potential buyers and bring down the value of your home.

Keep your wiring safe

You should have the mains wiring professionally checked every 10 years. If it’s your property, keep a note of the inspection date so you know when the next one’s due.

If you rent, ask your landlord when the last inspection was done.

That way, any faulty wiring which could cause a fire can be put right before it’s too late.

Take some simple steps

As well as knowing the danger signs, and doing your 10-year check, there are some straightforward tips for preventing electrical fires:

  • Don’t overload sockets. You should never have more than 13 amps, or 3,000 watts, coming out of any one socket.
  • Fit the right fuses. They’ll stop too much power getting through, and cut down the risk of overheating or a fire.
  • Switch off and unplug all the things you’re not using. It’s the only way to make sure there isn’t any electricity flowing through the socket. When you go out, or go to bed, turn things off at the wall, and unplug them too if you can. Leave on things like the freezer, of course.

Get the right home insurance

Doing these things cuts down the chance of a fire. But it can never rule it out completely.

Make sure your home and the things in it are properly protected, with home insurance from Direct Line.