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The deadly appliances in all our homes – do you know the biggest fire risks?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Feb 9, 2018


Faulty electrical goods caused a staggering 4,500 fires in UK homes last year, or 13 fires every day.

The figures have been released by the charity Electrical Safety First (ESF), and it says the figure represents one on five of all blazes in the UK last year. The result is a trail of destruction leaving deaths and hundreds of injuries.

Since 2007 there have been 516 recall notices for electrical goods - but ESF say that as only 10 to 20 per cent of faulty goods are ever returned, there are potentially millions of dangerous appliances in people's homes.

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The shock figures come a month after MPs attacked Whirlpool for its "woeful" response to potentially dangerous tumble dryers after it emerged there are still one million of the dryers in people’s homes.

Whirlpool has fixed or replaced around 1.7million dryers since the defect was first revealed in 2015.

But for more than a year it told customers the machines were safe to use as long as they were watched when in use. But in February last year, the advice was finally changed to: unplug them and don’t use until they’re repaired!

Phil Buckle, Chief Executive at Electrical Safety First said: "We regularly hear of fires, some of them fatal, which have been caused by faulty electrical appliances.

"We’re urging people to protect themselves from these risks by always registering their products. It only takes a few minutes, and will give you and your family peace of mind that you will be notified if a dangerous product is in your home."

"We fully supports the new Office for Product Safety and Standards and would like to work with them on ensuring that the UK’s product safety system works as effectively as possible.

"We strongly recommend that a centrally managed product recall database is established, which would allow consumers to check that the appliances they are using are safe.

"There is a lot more to be done to tackle the threat posed by dangerous electrical goods and we urge the new office to work in the best interests of consumers."

How to protect yourself

Exploding oven doors are another danger we come across regularly.  This is when oven doors, for no apparent reason, suddenly shatter and send shards of glass spilling into kitchens.

Manufacturers are coy about how many cases there are, but the event is terrifying for householders, especially when young children are nearby.

One of the latest incidents happened to the Copley family of Norwich, when their Indesit oven exploded twice in a matter of months. 

Madeleine and Steven Copley feared their 18-month-old son could have been injured by flying glass. 

The Copley family's oven exploded twice in three months

Currys  told Madeleine that this happened to 1/10,000 ovens. If that’s true it makes the Copleys pretty damned unlucky!

No appliance can be 100% safe 

The UK white goods website explains that exploding glass oven doors is not that unusual. 

"No appliance can be made absolutely 100% guaranteed safe. 

"It simply is not possible to account for every single instance or every single way in which an appliance will be used or abused.  

"And, it really is unreasonable to expect any manufacturer to be able to do this." 

Oven door glass is made from a toughened glass that, when it breaks, does so in the same way as a car window glass will do, minimising the danger of cuts. 

If you want to be absolute safe, the only option would be to buy an oven with a solid door.

The key then is to be aware this can happen and treat glass oven doors warily, and certainly not let children play near them.

Dryers and washing machines

Dryers and washing machines are two of the biggest causes of home fires. Fridges and dishwashers too are a danger.

Between them, these appliances are responsible for 10 fires a day in the UK.

The general advice is to have these appliances serviced at least yearly.

Never leave dishwashers or washing machines running overnight or while you are out.

With dryers, make sure they are as lint-free as possible – that means cleaning the filter after every use. It takes seconds and a build-up of fluff is the biggest danger.

Have a smoke alarm installed near these appliances.

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