One death and 80 preventable electrical fires every week in the UK
Plug Into Safety campaign launches to cut deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents
Every week in the UK someone dies in an electrical accident at home, and one in eight has had a serious electrical shock1. Yet new research commissioned by the Electrical Safety Council2 shows just how little the UK thinks about electrical safety:
- Over half of us haven’t checked our electrics – or had them professionally checked – in the last 12 months
- A third of us say we are not concerned about electrical safety and;
- Almost 13 million homes in the UK3 do not have adequate RCD (residual current device)4 protection – which can save your life, protect against dangerous electrical shock and reduce the risk of electrical fires.
RCDs are particularly important when using mains powered tools or electrical equipment outdoors. As we use more and more mains powered appliances the risk of electric shock and fire is increased which is why the Electrical Safety Council is launching the Plug into Safety campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of electricity in the home and garden by encouraging us to take a few minutes to check our electrics and use RCD protection.
Campaign supporter, celebrity builder Tommy Walsh says: “Check your electrics and don’t use any appliances, lighting and switches that are faulty or visibly damaged. And, if you don’t already have it, consider fitting RCD protection. A plug-in RCD costs as little as £10 from most garden or hardware stores. Or consider upgrading to a modern fuse box with built-in RCDs. It could be a life-saver”.
Phil Buckle, Director General of the ESC says. “The campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of electricity in the home and garden by encouraging everyone to take a few minutes to check their electrics – and use RCD protection.”
Plug into Safety aims to cut the number of people killed or injured through electrical accidents – and the most common can happen as we undertake DIY or get out in the garden this weekend. Of 281 survey respondents5 who have experienced an electric shock, the most typical causes of accidents are:
- Using appliances that are faulty (23%)
- Cutting or drilling through cables (11%)
The ESC wants the Plug into Safety campaign to increase awareness of RCDs in much the same way that smoke alarms were promoted by the Government’s ‘Fire Kills’ campaign. When ‘Fire Kills’ started only 9% of households had smoke alarms – now they are in over 80% of homes. With help from a range of partners – including the fire service, housing providers, government and electricians – the ESC aims to take RCDs mainstream.
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For further information please contact Vicky Argles on 020 7403 2230 / 07930 500 220 or Jacqueline Culleton on 0207 403 2230 / 07872 558 937.
Notes to editors
Interviews available with case studies
- Barbara Holtum – electrical kitchen nightmare – a pet rabbit ate through an electrical cable and years later, when cleaning with a wet cloth, she received a severe electric shock and was stuck in position behind the washing machine. Her partially blind father pulled her to safety. She was severely shocked but survived.
- Nicola Osmond – walked past a plug-in air freshener, knocked and dislodged it, and as she was fixing it received an electrical shock. All the lights went out but through candle light she saw smoke coming from her fingers and the entire wall was scorched.
Interviews available with experts
- Vij Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer at West Midlands Fire Service – can provide expert comment on the consequences of electrical fires
- Tom Potokar, consultant plastic surgeon, Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, Morriston Hospital – can provide expert comment on the human impact of electrical burns
1 Figure established from World Health Organisation, Health & Safety Executive and Communities and Local Government data.
2 Ipsos MORI omnibus, between 14 and 17 May 2010. 1025 interviews conducted (Adults 16 to 64)
3 Figures derived from BRE data.
4 An RCD is a sensitive switching device that quickly turns the electricity off when danger arises to reduce the risk of death or serious injury. RCD protection is particularly important when using electrical equipment outdoors.
5 Ipsos MORI omnibus, 26 March to 01 April 2010. 2043 interviews were conducted. (Adults aged 15+).
Electrical Safety Council
The Electrical Safety Council is an independent charity committed to reducing deaths and injuries through electrical accidents at home and at work.