Alarming rise in appliance-related fires in the home

Fires caused by misuse of appliances have increased by over a third since 2009

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The Independent Online

Not using appliances properly is the top cause of all fires in British homes, according to the Electrical Safety Council.

The five most common mistakes leading to fires in the home are

* Creating a fire hazard by using the microwave as an additional surface and blocking air vents

* Leaving the tumble dryer running unattended or overnight

* Blocking air vents by failing to clean behind the fridge/freezer

* Overloading adaptor sockets, causing an unsafe rise in temperature

* Leaving an electrical appliance on while unattended

Fires caused by misuse of appliances have increased by over a third since 2009 , despite there being an overall decline in house fires, with chip pan fires plummeting by two thirds and fires started through smoking dropping by a third .

On average, fires caused by misuse of appliances kill 22 people and seriously injure about 2,500 every year.

According to the council - which has launched an awareness campaign today - many UK adults do not have adequate protection from electrical fires. For example, less than half (49%) have a Residual Current Device (RCD) in their fusebox, a vital safety device which minimises the risk of fire by cutting off the power in the event of a fault.

Phil Buckle, Director General of the Electrical Safety Council said: “People think that they are behaving safely but the majority of people we surveyed had put themselves at risk by unknowingly making a safety blunder.

"Fires caused by misuse of appliances – the vast majority of which are electrical - are so easy to prevent but they will keep increasing unless people understand the simple things that can and do cause fires. "