Which? calls for action on faulty household appliances

A recent investigation by consumer body Which? has revealed that faulty household appliances are responsible for more than 60 house fires each week in the UK.

kitchen fire

This “stubbornly high” figure highlights the fact that Government action to remove potentially dangerous electrical white goods from homes is falling “woefully short”, Which? warns, as it challenges ministers to explain how the fledgling Office for Product Safety and Standards will tackle the problem.

The investigation analysis, based on fire data obtained via Freedom of Information requests, reveals that the amount of fires has stayed at roughly the same level for five years, with malfunctioning kitchen appliances causing approximately 16,000 fires across the UK since 1 April 2012.

Faulty washing machines and dryers were the most high-risk appliances, causing more than a third (35%) of blazes between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016. Over the same period, cookers and ovens caused 11% of fires, dishwashers 10% and fridges, freezers and fridge freezers 8%.

Which? faulty appliance graph

Graph courtesy of Which?

Which? has written to ministers giving them three months in which to devise and publish a strategic plan for the Office for Product Safety and Standards. It urges them to set out the “true scale” of product safety risks in the UK and take immediate steps to prevent further fires, including removing an estimated one million potentially faulty Whirlpool-made tumble dryers which are still present in UK homes.

Last month a House of Commons committee urged Whirlpool to take “urgent action” to resolve the problem that has led to at least 750 fires since 2004. Its inquiry into risks from faulty electrical items was triggered by last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy when 71 people died in a fire caused by a faulty Hotpoint fridge-freezer.burnt out washing machine and tumble drier

The move forms part of Which?’s new End Dangerous Products campaign, calling for a shake-up of the UK’s antiquated product safety regime to keep dangerous electrical white goods out of homes.

“It’s shocking that there are more than 60 house fires every week in the UK because of faulty appliances” said Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive. “The government must now publish an action plan for the Office of Product Safety and Standards, setting out what it will do to keep dangerous products out of consumers’ homes and tackle Britain’s broken product safety regime.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government’s top priority is to keep people safe, which is why last month we set out our approach to further strengthen the UK’s already tough product safety system.”

*Source: Which?, The Guardian


Valentine’s candle safety advice

It’s Valentine’s Day, the international day of love, but before you reach for the candles in order create a romantic setting, make sure you our top tips for candle safety.

Couple kiss over romantic meal

Candles are a popular way to create a romantic mood over dinner.

In the year 2003 alone, there were 1791 house fires due to candles. As a result, 22 people died and over 650 were injured. A huge 37% of these candle fires started in the bedroom.

As the sales of candles has gone up by 50% in recent years, this trend is unfortunately going to continue unless people are educated as to the dangers of candles and the damage they can cause.

Candles mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere. They also bring fire into your home. So treat them with respect.

Top Tips for Candle Safety

  • Always put candles on a heat resistant surface. Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects
  • Put them in a proper holder. Candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either
  • Position them away from curtains. Don’t put candles near curtains or other fabrics – or furniture. And keep them out of draughts
  • Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there’s at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it
  • Keep clothes and hair away. If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else. You don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair
  • Keep children and pets away. Candles should be out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles
  • Take care with votive or scented candles. These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder
  • Don’t move them when they’re burning. Extinguish candles before moving them. Also, don’t let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks
  • Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child’s bedroom
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out. It’s safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying
  • Double check they’re out. Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire. Make sure they’re completely out.

*Source: www.fireservice.co.uk


Stay safe this pancake day

With around 60% of accidental home fires starting in the kitchen, a stark warning has been issued by firefighters across the UK urging people to stay safe on Pancake Day.

pancake day stack

In 2017, London’s fire crews were called to 2,458 cooking-related fires, 248 of which resulted in injuries, and this year they are offering some simple advice in attempt to avoid kitchen catastrophes.

Charlie Pugsley, the Brigade’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: “We all like to enjoy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday but cooking can quickly take a dangerous turn.

“It doesn’t take much to burn a pancake, so make sure you never leave your frying pan unattended.

“If the pan does catch fire, never tackle it yourself and don’t attempt to move it or throw water on it as it could create a fireball.

“The best thing you can do is leave the room, close the door, warn others in the property and call 999.”

London firefighters have already attended 210 cooking-related fires so far in 2018 which resulted in 26 injuries.

frying pan on fire

Unattended frying pans can catch fire easily.

Read how to keep yourself safe below with the London Fire Brigade’s tips to preventing cooking fires.

How to prevent cooking fires

  • Avoid leaving cooking unattended
  • Don’t cook if you are tired, having been drinking alcohol or taking medication which might make you drowsy
  • Take care not to lean over hot hobs and keep tea towels and clothes away from the cooker and hob
  • Be careful to keep the over, hob, cook hood and grill clean to avoid a build-up of fat and grease, which could ignite and cause a fire
  • Use spark devices to light gas cookers – they are much safer than matches or lighters as they don’t have a naked flame
  • Double check the cooker and hob are turned off when you’ve finished cooking
  • Check toasters are clean and placed away from anything that can catch fire
  • Never put anything metal in the microwave
  • Never use a barbecue indoors or on a balcony – burning or smouldering fuel can cause carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Supervise children and pets in the kitchen at all times and keep matches and saucepan handles out of reach

If a pan catches fire

  • Don’t tackle the fire yourself and don’t attempt to move the pan
  • Never throw water over a fire as it could create a fireball
  • Turn off the heat, if it is safe to do so
  • Leave the room, close the door, shout a warning to others and call 999

Deep fat fryer safety

  • Take care when cooking with hot oil – it can easily overheat and catch fire
  • Never fill a pan more than one-third full of fat or oil
  • Make sure food is dry before putting it in hot oil
  • If the oil starts to smoke, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool
  • Use an electronic deep fat fryer if possible – they have built-in thermostats to control the temperature

Is your skin cream a fire hazard?

Skin creams containing paraffin could be related to hundreds of fire-related deaths, a senior
firefighter has suggested.

skin cream in pot

 Chris Bell, watch commander of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, says that paraffin-based creams used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can become highly flammable when they soak into fabrics and come into contact with cigarettes or naked flames.

“Hundreds of thousands of people use them, we’re not sure how many fire deaths might have occurred but it could be into the hundreds,” he said, speaking to BBC 5 Live.

“People are using paraffin-based skin products to treat eczema and psoriasis and various other skin creams, putting it all over their bodies and different parts of themselves – treating themselves for those different skin conditions.”

person applying skin cream

Mr Bell explains that the cream can get into fabrics, clothing, bandages and bedclothes, and become highly flammable, especially if these items are not washed regularly and the product builds up.

“The creams are safe to use in their own right, but if that person is exposed to a naked flame or some other heat source, they can go up,” he says.

The findings come after an investigation by the radio station and Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire which discovered that just seven of 38 paraffin-based products licensed in the UK had warnings on their packaging.

According to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, users should not smoke, use naked flames or go near anything which may cause a fire while the creams are in contact with dressings or clothing.

Its advice states “patients’ clothing and bedding should be changed regularly – preferably daily – because emollients soak into fabric and can become a fire hazard”.

Faulty appliances cause 13 fires every day

Last year saw 4,732 fires caused by electrical products – that’s a staggering 13 fires every day. These latest figures, from charity Electrical Safety First, warns that millions of faulty appliances across the UK, that are already known to be dangerous, are still being used in homes.

Faulty appliance - fridge

Many manufacturers still use plastic backing on their appliances.

Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London last year concerns about electrical appliances and their safety have spiralled. The tragic blaze, which claimed the lives of 71 victims, was triggered by a faulty fridge freezer.

Despite growing pressure to improve the product recall system the figures have revealed that fewer than one in five faulty appliances subject to a recall are ever repaired or disposed of, meaning that the majority of them are still being used.

A spokesman for Electrical Safety First said: ‘Since 2007, there have been 516 recall notices issued for electrical goods in the UK. Given that only 10 to 20 per cent of faulty goods are ever returned or repaired, there are potentially millions of dangerous appliances still in people’s homes.’

MPs and consumer groups are calling on manufacturers to take urgent action to ensure their products are safe, with particular emphasis on Whirlpool, whose tumble dryers – sold under the Indesit, Hotpoint and Creda brands – have been responsible for 750 fires alone in the past decade.

Electrical Safety First is calling on buyers of new household appliances to register their name and address with the product’s manufacturer, which will make it much easier to contact them if a fault is discovered.

There is also increasing alarm from consumer watchdog Which?, fire chiefs and councils alike regarding the use of cheap flammable plastic panels on the rear of fridges. As many as 46% of appliances on the market have these panels, including brands such as Smeg, Zanussi and Hoover, with tests showing that electrical fires in these fridges and freezers can take hold and spread much more quickly than those with non-flammable metal back panels.

Online product checker

Have your appliances been recalled? Simply type in your product manufacturer to search through a list of items.

*Widget from Electrical Safety First

Register your appliances here.

*Source: Electrical Safety First, Dailymail.co.uk

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Protecting your home against burglary is something that most of us will agree is a good idea. But how many of us protect our household contents?

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What is SelectaDNA marking?

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Watch the video below to find out more about SelectDNA.

How SelectaDNA marking works

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selectadna logo

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how selectadna marking works

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