Fire service issues urgent warning to home workers
Despite national lockdown ending on December 2, thousands of UK workers will continue to work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Most people have now been working from home for more than eight months, after the UK was first plunged into lockdown back in March.
The ongoing restrictions means many workers won’t be heading back to the office any time soon, with the shift forcing thousands to adpart to a new working environment.
While home working does come with certain comforts, it has several downsides too - including a possible fire risk from overloading sockets.
Warning from fire service
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have issued a warning to home workers on social media about the dangers of overloading plug sockets.
Many households are likely to have more than one person working from home, which means more plugs will be in use to power computers, laptops and charge phones.
But despite plugs having space for more than one appliance, using all of the sockets is not always safe. If overloaded, wall sockets could start to overheat and potentially start a fire.
UK charity Electrical Safety First recommends looking regularly for the following danger signs of overheating:
- a smell of hot plastic or burning near an appliance or socket
- sparks or smoke coming from a plug or appliance
- blackness or scorch marks around a socket or plug, or on an appliance
damaged or frayed leads
- coloured wire inside leads showing at the plug or anywhere else
- melted plastic on appliance casings or leads
- fuses that blow or circuit-breakers that operate for no obvious reason
How to stay safe
The fire service has advised that people use the socket calculator from Electrical Safety First to help minimise the risk of fire in homes.
The charity recommends using four-way bar adapters to increase the number of appliances which can be plugged into a wall socket.
To ensure your safety while home working, be mindful of these simple tips:
- Check the current rating of the extension lead before plugging in your appliances. Most are rated at 13 A, but some are only rated at only 10 A or less. The rating should be clearly marked on the back or underside of the extension lead, or in the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never overload an extension lead by plugging in appliances that together will exceed the maximum current rating stated for the lead. Doing so could cause the plug in the wall socket to overheat and possibly cause a fire.
- Use an overload calculator to check if you are exceeding the maximum load.
- Only use one socket extension lead per socket and never plug an extension lead into another extension lead.
- Use a multiway bar extension lead rather than a block adaptor, as this will put less strain on the wall socket. Some block adaptors do not have a fuse, which increases the risk of overloading and fire.
- Consider having additional sockets installed if you regularly rely on extension leads and adaptors. Be sure to use a registered electrician to carry out the installation.