In the last year, the proportion of fire claims caused by electrical faults has risen by 35 per cent, now accounting for over a quarter (27 per cent) of overall fire claims, according to figures from the Co-op Insurance.
And Jonathan Guy, head of claims at the insurer, says there is a correlation between the increase and the prevalence of counterfeit phone chargers.
Claims analysts at the Co-op insurance believe that in addition to some of the more traditional causes for electrical faults, such as tumble dryers and washing machines, other common culprits include electric blankets and smaller appliances which require chargers such as e-cigarettes, mobile phones, iPads and laptops.
As technology invades our homes and we become more connected, the amount of technology people possess has vastly increased over recent years. 1.8 million mobile phone chargers are bought online in the UK each year and an estimated 2.1million people now using e-cigarettes in Great Britain.
Consumers need to be careful that they purchase official chargers, as counterfeit ones are often made with poor quality components that fail to meet UK safety regulations, according to charity Electrical Safety First.
Jonathan Guy, Head of Claims at the Co-op Insurance, says: “In the last year alone we’ve seen a surge in fire claims caused by electrical faults, with a correlation to counterfeit phone chargers. We’d like to warn people about the dangers of using these items, as the poor quality components can lead to not only electrocution and burns but serious house fires, with tragic circumstances.”
80 in every 100,000 households will suffer from a fire in any given year according to Co-op data, with the most common cause of fire being accidental ignition, followed by electrical faults.
The Co-op Insurance’s top tips for reducing fire risks in the home:
Don’t leave appliances charging unsupervised for long periods of time
Use official/original chargers and electrical cables
Purchase electrical items from a reputable source and check it has a British or European safety mark when buying it.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the device
Don’t charge a battery that looks like it could have been damaged or dropped
Don’t cover items when you are charging them as they emit heat
Don’t leave large household appliances e.g. washing machines or tumble dryers on when you leave the house or overnight
Don’t overload extension cables with multiple appliances, it’s advised to use one plug per socket
Make sure you have a smoke alarm fitted in the home and regularly check it to make sure it works