Be careful you don’t burn your house down while working from home

We’re all worried about the Coronavirus pandemic. We’re afraid of getting sick, losing our jobs, losing our homes, and more. Now you can add one more worry to the list: fire.

Safety experts are warning people that, while so many of is are working from home and stuck in our houses for the foreseeable future, many people might be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical setups and practices. These include overloading sockets, daisy-chaining, and charging devices on beds.

A survey conducted by UK-based consumer safety charity, Electrical Safety First, found that a lot of people are putting themselves in danger and are also unaware of the risks.

The survey found that more than two thirds of people currently working from home are using extension cords or adaptors with their electronic devices and 38% of them have more devices plugged into one than they usually would. creating a fire risk. Also, more than 30% are either unaware of the risks of overloading plug sockets and don’t know how to check whether they’re doing so. “Even more concerning,” says the research brief, is the 44% of people who are “daisy chaining” extension cords or adapters together. This means plugging one extension into another and is a very bad idea (so, not as dirty as it sounds).

Another major issue identified in the survey is that more than half of respondents are putting electrical items like laptops and phones on beds while charging them. This is also a fire risk because these items can overheat. Electrical items should only be charged on hard, non-flammable surfaces.

Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, is quoted as saying, “With 70 per cent of those currently working from home doing so for the first time due to COVID-19, it’s unsurprising that not everyone will have had a chance to ensure their work stations are free from electrical hazards.

Take a few minutes to make sure you’re not daisy-chaining extension leads or overloading your plug sockets, and that you’re charging your devices on hard, non-flammable surfaces. We should all pay extra attention to  electrical safety during our period of remote working.”

Rick Hylton, Lead for Home Safety at the UK’s National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), recommends checking that smoke alarms are in working order and having a practised escape plan in case of fire.

“But also make sure you follow the simple advice to reduce your risk of an electrical fire,” he said. “These fires are often preventable and the advice will not only keep you working safely at home but reduce the pressure on the fire service.”

Electrical Safety First’s tips on working safely from home:

Don’t charge electrical items on beds. Always charge on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface. Avoid overloading sockets and extension leads.

Keep your workstation tidy. Many people may be working in a small workspace and it’s important to keep drinks away from electrical items.

Be mindful of cables, they can present a trip hazard.

Don’t daisy chain extension leads. If your cable doesn’t reach, don’t plug it into another extension cord. Move your workspace closer to the socket or use a longer lead.

Be mindful at lunchtime. With many of us cooking lunch at home for the time being it’s important not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the stove being left on, unattended.

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