East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is helping highlight the dangers of grime fires, as new research from the Electrical Safety Council reveals the fire risks of dirty kitchens.
Four million people have experienced a grime fire in their kitchen according to research released today by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) to mark Electrical Fire Safety Week (23rd – 27th September 2013).
Grime fires are the result of dirty and messy kitchens and are caused by the ignition of excess fat in cooking appliances, clutter stored by heat sources catching fire, or by dirt, dust and crumbs blocking ventilation and causing products to overheat.
As grime fires are often caused by hidden dirt or overlooked mess, they can easily be avoided by thoroughly cleaning the kitchen on a regular basis and tidying away mess. Yet research from the ESC shows that a third of people can’t remember the last time their oven or the area behind their fridge was cleaned , one in seven admit to regularly blocking vents with objects, and one in ten even confess to leaving flammable items next to heat sources .
These unseen or overlooked fire risks are particularly worrying since more than half of all house fires are started by kitchen appliances (21,036 out of 37,061 house fires last year). The build up of dust, dirt and grime is also responsible for thousands of serious burns or broken electrical appliances in the kitchen.
Hectic lifestyles are often to blame for not cleaning the kitchen properly, and common excuses include being too busy, battling other priorities or relying on other members of the household. And a fifth of people confess to putting themselves at risk because they are just too lazy to clean as well as they should.
It is families who are particularly hard-pushed for time, with two fifths confessing that they find it difficult to keep their house clean and tidy – extending to two thirds of parents with children under five years old.
Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council added: “People are increasingly busy and have so much going on it’s easy for cleaning to take a backseat, but a build up of grime, dust and even food crumbs in kitchen appliances can cause fires or stop them working.
“Grime can often build up without you realising, so you might think you have a clean kitchen but if you look closer there can be an electrical fire waiting to happen. I’d urge everyone to clean their appliances as often as possible, and take care not to leave objects lying around in the kitchen that could ignite or block ventilation.”
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service electrical safety advice
• Make time at least once a year to clean out any ventilation systems you use in your kitchen, as well as the space behind fridges and freezers.
• Make sure items aren’t stored on top of microwaves, or in front of its vents, as well as ensuring there isn’t a build up of grime in ovens and toasters.
• Electrical appliances, especially ones that run at high speeds and contain motors, like washing machines, should be serviced once a year by a qualified electrician.
For plugs and sockets, keep an eye out for the following:
• hot plugs or sockets, scorch marks, fuses that often blow, or flickering lights - they are all are signs of loose wiring or other electrical problems
• badly wired plugs - any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug
• overloaded sockets - plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating
For electrical appliances, you should never:
• get them wet - this includes plugs and sockets, so don't put a vase of flowers on top of the TV, for example
• leave them on at night - unless they are designed to be left on, like freezers
• put anything in the microwave that is made of metal, or has a metallic finish or parts
Visit www.esfrs.org or www.esc.org/kitchensafety for more information and tips on avoiding electrical fires