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Recent fires in our area have once again highlighted the dangers of white goods in the kitchen.

Burnt out dishwasher following a property fire, door is open with the inside blackened from fire damage, wire racks still visable

One of the incidents involved a tumble dryer which had suffered an electrical fault which started a fire in the kitchen. Thankfully no-one was injured in the incident, but the near miss demonstrated the importance of some simple tips owners can follow to minimise the risk to their family and their home.

White goods such as tumble dryers or dishwashers are a fire risk due to their high wattage, friction and motors. [Library photo]

  • Before plugging your appliances in for use, check flexible cables for damage, wear and tear, and that the plug is fastened securely to the cable. Don’t use the appliance unless it and its cable are in good condition.
  • Check your sockets regularly – if you see burn marks or they feel hot, get a registered electrician to check if they need repairing or replacing.
  • Make sure that you have a working smoke alarm on each floor of your property – if a fire does start, this will give you a chance to get out safely and call 999 for help.

There are simple steps that you can take to minimise the risk of fire or electric shock when using appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, fridge-freezers and dishwashers:

  • Always buy from a retailer you can trust and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, using and maintaining electrical appliances
  • Don't leave the washing machine or dishwasher running overnight or while you are out
  • If your appliance begins making a strange noise or isn’t working properly, don't ignore it. If you think there might be a problem, always unplug it and contact the manufacturer or a qualified repair technician
  • Don’t overload washing machines or tumble dryers – take bulky items like duvets to the dry cleaners
  • Don't overload dishwashers - use racks in accordance with manufacturers instructions
  • Do regular checks of plugs and sockets for burn marks, sounds of 'arcing' (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing, circuit-breakers tripping or if it feels too hot to touch
  • Don't let fluff build up in the filter of tumble dryer drawers - it can overheat and cause a fire
  • Don't place a fridge or freezer near cookers, radiators, or in direct sunlight, as it will have to work harder to maintain the required internal temperature
  • Clean behind your fridge and freezer regularly to keep lint and dust from building up, and make sure there is enough room behind the appliance for air to circulate freely
  • Clean your oven and hob regularly and always clear spillages immediately to avoid a build-up of food debris and fat which is a fire risk
  • Only use your microwave for food! Always follow the instructions on the packaging and make sure that you only put things in the microwave that are clearly marked as microwave-safe
  • Always register your electrical appliances so that the manufacturer can contact you if there’s a problem - go to Register My Appliance

Find out more at Electrical Safety First