We all love the convenience of modern electrical items from kettles and microwaves to tumble dryers and dishwashers. When used correctly, the risk of fire is low.
Make sure an electrical appliance has a British or European safety mark when you buy it. Beware of fake electrical products. Don’t overload! If in doubt: ONE PLUG, ONE SOCKET. Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.
If you need to use extension cables and adapters, do not overload. Do not leave appliances running if they are unattended especially if you are out or asleep.
Check for scorch marks and fraying cables (shown on the image on the right hand side) as this can be very dangerous. If you are in any doubt, DO NOT USE!
- Keep appliances clean and unblock filters. Do not block vents or store items on top of your appliance. Check and clean behind appliances.
- When moving or installing appliances, make sure there is enough ventilation. Always be careful not to trap any cables.
Charging Electrical Items
- When charging electrical goods, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and look for the CE mark that indicates chargers comply with European safety standards.
- Switch off and unplug chargers and devices when not in use.
- Avoid charging mobile phones and other electronic equipment overnight. NEVER place electrical items under pillows or on soft furnishings.
Batteries can ignite at waste management facilities and put staff at risk when they are not recycled correctly.
Follow these tips:
- Never put batteries in your general waste or recycling bins.
- Only recycle batteries using a proper battery recycling service, such as at your local recycling and household waste site, or battery collection point often found in supermarkets.
- Remove batteries from broken devices if you can and recycle both the battery and the device separately.
- If you’re unable to remove the battery, recycle it together with your old electricals.
What Is A Lithium-Ion Battery?
These are the lightweight, rechargeable batteries that can be found in household electrical items we use everyday, like mobile phones, laptops and e-cigarettes. The device you’re reading on right now is probably powered by a lithium-ion battery.
Why can lithium batteries be dangerous?
Lithium batteries are safe during normal use, but present a fire risk when over-charged, short-circuited, submerged in water or damaged. They are a main cause of waste fires, and can be extremely dangerous when thrown away with general rubbish, or mixed with other recyclable materials like card, metals and plastics.
Lithium-ion batteries are extremely sensitive to high temperatures and inherently flammable. These batteries can cause fires that quickly spread and are difficult to extinguish, causing widespread damage.
How to stay safe:
- Always use a charger supplied with the device or recommended by the manufacturer.
- Charge the device on a flat, solid and stable surface, such as a kitchen worktop. Never leave your mobile phone charging under your pillow.
- Only charge the device for the recommended charging time and don’t leave unattended – e.g. overnight while you’re asleep, or if you go out.
- Keep the device away from flammable materials when charging.
- Never charge lithium batteries on your escape route. If possible, charge and store them away from your living areas.
- Avoid storing, using, or charging batteries at very high or low temperatures.
- If the device has not been used for quite some time, be extra careful when you charge it – lithium batteries don’t like being discharged to a very low voltage.
- Protect batteries against being damaged – that’s crushed, punctured, or immersed in water. Do not use if it looks physically damaged.
- Always read the safety instructions that came with your device.
- Ensure you have working smoke alarms.
- Avoid storing or charging e-bikes and e-scooters on escape routes or in communal areas of a multi occupied building. If there’s a fire, it can affect people’s ability to escape.
Visit the Less Waste website to find out more about the dangers of zombie batteries and how you can recycle them responsibly. You can also visit the How do I dispose of guide to find out how to recycle, reuse or dispose of an item.