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Which? warns of appliance fire risks

Expert advice for Electrical Fire Safety Week

Which? offers advice on the safety features you can look out for when buying new appliances, as risks are highlighted during Electrical Fire Safety Week. 

More than 4,000 injuries were caused by accidental home fires started by cooking appliances during 2010 and 2011, and 785 non-fatal casualties were caused by other electrical appliances.

Which? members can read the Which? report about appliance fires online. If you’re not a Which? member you can sign up.

Safety features to look out for

As well as taking safety precautions with your appliances, there are a number of features you can look out for that will help prevent accidental fires:

  • Cookers and ovens are often the cause of fires because of misuse. When shopping for a new gas cooker, look for one with a Flame Safety Device (FSD), which will stop the flow of gas if the flame is extinguished. Find the best cookers, ovens and range cookers in our reviews.
  • Washing machines and tumble dryers are more likely to catch fire because of a fault. It’s important to clean all lint filters or traps every time you use the machine to maintain good airflow. This will also save energy and money. See our tumble dryer FAQs for more information and tips.
  • Some food preparation appliances have a handy feature called motor overheat protection or motor thermal protection, which will turn off the motor if becomes too hot. See our reviews of hand mixers, food processors and hand blenders to find the best one for you.
  • Look out for an iron with an auto shut-off function. This will switch the iron off automatically if it hasn’t been used for a period of time. See our ‘compare features and prices’ tool to find irons with this feature.
  • If you’re getting a new kettle, find one with a boil dry function which won’t allow you to use it if there isn’t enough water.

If you’re not a Which? member, you can access our full reviews and find the best prices with a subscription to Which?.

As well as looking for safety features on new appliances, it’s important to take precautions and maintain current appliances. But only one in three people check their appliances once a year and 35% never check them at all, according to a survey commissioned by appliance manufacturer Beko and conducted by TNS Omnibus.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has teamed up with Beko to address this issue. As part of Electrical Fire Safety Week, they’re sending out advice packs to fire and rescue services and housing associations nationwide, with tips on how to prevent fire hazards by carrying out simple checks and maintenance tasks. These will then be distributed to local communities.

Faulty appliances cause fires

According to government figures, over the last two years (2010/11) almost 6,000 appliances or their electrical leads caught fire because of faults.

But these may just be the tip of the iceberg, as it’s estimated that 70-80% of home fires are dealt with by the homeowner and not reported to the fire brigade.

Currently there isn’t a statutory requirement for fire brigades to collect data about makes and models of specific appliances that have caused fires. So Which? has called for this information to be shared nationwide, helping to alert consumers and manufacturers to common issues more quickly.

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