It’s Electrical Fire Safety Week this week (22-28 November), so Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people of the importance of using electrical appliances and devices correctly.

Overloading sockets, using the wrong chargers, and not checking the wiring on items are all causes of fire, yet are all easily avoided.

Safe & Well Manager Vikki Thomas said: “It’s always tempting to save a bit of money, so we do understand why people buy items from online marketplaces and discount stores rather than the branded equivalent. However, it is all too often a false economy, as using cheaper and often fake cables and devices increases the risk of fire.”

She added: “With winter arriving, and the rising price of gas, we are concerned that people may use fan heaters and electric blankets that have been in storage for a long time as a way of keeping warm. It’s vital that all appliances and devices are maintained well and checked before use.”

Other top tips for keeping safe around electrical items include:

• Avoid overloading plug sockets – many people use four-way bar extension leads to allow them to plug more appliances in, particularly in older properties that don’t have as many sockets. However, just because there is space to plug in four appliances, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to do so. Use the socket overload calculator at to check what’s safe and what isn’t.

• Don’t store flammable “clutter” near the electrical intake or on top of microwaves.

• Make sure that any portable heaters are being used safely. They shouldn’t be used to dry or heat clothes, and shouldn’t be left switched on and unattended. Also watch out for trailing cables that can cause a trip hazard.

• Check that electric blankets are in good condition and that manufacturers’ instructions are followed. If a blanket is more than ten years old, consider buying a new one from a retailer that you trust.

• Make sure that electrical products have not been subject to a recall or safety notice. You can carry out a simple search using Electrical Safety First’s online product checker, which can be found at

• Make sure that you have working smoke alarms and check that all appliances are in good working order.

If you have any fire safety concerns, you can request a free Safe & Well visit, where someone will visit you to help you assess the fire risk in your home and offer support and guidance. Call free on 0800 038 2323 or apply online at