Electrical fires from household products causing Injuries and deaths show no decline. It prompts the question – are your electrical goods safe?
Corries are specialist product liability solicitors. We act for victims of defective products and might be able to help you.
In this article we discuss how goods that might be in your home may cause harm and what can be done about it.
Plastic Backed Fridges
The dangers of plastic backed fridges has been in the spotlight lately. A Which? study reported on by The Independent found these backed fridges took flame in less than 30 seconds. Some models could set alight and speed up the spread of a fire. The article warned of the models concerned. if you are worried click on the article right here If that does not work the Which? study and the list of appliances is here as well
Figures compiled by Electrical Safety First and using Government figures confirm these statistics about the dangers in the home. A copy of the link is here to read
There were 28,350 fires during the year 2015/16. Of these 15,432 were due to electrical fires. There were 1380 fatalities or injuries caused by electrical fires. Of these 40% were caused by appliance or supply fault, though misuse was the biggest cause of electrical fires (48%).
This works out at 27 fires a week or 4 per day.
In terms of appliances it can be expected that cooking appliances are most likely to set off fires. The figures break down as follows:-
Cooking appliances 1,145 injuries or fatalities
White Goods 966 injuries or fatalities
Electrical distribution (wiring, cabling, plugs) 379 injuries or fatalities
Tumble Dryers 46 injuries or fatalities
Dishwashers 17 injuries or fatalities
Fridge / freezers 27 injuries or fatalities
These figures suggest that electrical fires are a significant problem with around 2,000 fatalities or injuries in England per year caused as a result of problems with the appliances themselves, as opposed to wiring etc (based on 2015/16 figures).
It should be noted that a significant proportion will be caused by “user error”. This means many people who are the author of their own misfortune by incorrect usage or poor maintenance. However there are still a significant number of “innocent” injured people out there. The split between minor injury and serious/fatal is unknown from these figures.
Assessing the Damage
A Which? investigation in 2015 reported on by the BBC see here and highlighted ongoing concerns.
Strangely it was washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers which were found to most likely cause fires.
Which? at that time urged people to register appliances they buy with manufacturers so they can be alerted of any recall. To date no central register nor other action has been taken by manufacturers or trade associations.
What if my product is unsafe or is recalled?
A common worry is how people can find out if the product they have bought is safe or is to be recalled. Help is at hand with the Gov.uk website. This link click here allows you to check your appliance, register it and if there is a problem who you can contact. It also has a lot of information about safety recalls on other aspects of life.
The service is free and whilst you may get some extra e mails in your inbox then that surely is a price worth paying for piece of mind.
The Which? article on the plastic fridges above provided some useful tips if you are worried about your appliances. These are digested here:-
- Refer to your appliance manual to check the recommended distances are kept between your refrigeration appliance and the wall,
- Make sure vents are not blocked and the area around your appliances are kept clean to prevent the build-up of dust and grease.
- Plug your refrigeration appliance directly into the wall rather than using an extension lead
- If your white goods start making a strange noise, don’t ignore it.
- If you suspect there might be a problem, always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician.
- Don’t be tempted to put the fridge freezer in the hallway
- Fit smoke alarms: white goods are often left switched on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A smoke alarm will wake you up if a fire starts while you are sleeping.
- Fit a heat alarm in your kitchen – this will give you early warning of an increase in temperature caused by fire but won’t be set off by cooking fumes.
- Register your appliance – so you will be informed if the manufacturer identifies any issues with the product you have bought.
- Be careful if you’re thinking about using a big refrigerator in a small room. The proportion of refrigerant to normal air could get too high in the unlikely event of a leak, so will make the air more flammable.
The need for more driven and focused regulation and checking has been recognised by the Government. In January 2018 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set up the Office for Product Safety and Standards. This body has a wide remit but is intending to keep consumer safety at the forefront. it is a new body and will therefor take some time to develop. The home page for this department is here for you to see
Finally we hope it has the teeth and the will to make sure manufacturers and retailers keep a close eye on safety so the figures of people affected can reduce as much as possible.
Corries are specialists in product liability claims. had an incident and think you might have a claim – call us FREE o 0800 655 6550. Our team will try and help in a friendly way.