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Why Electrical Fires Are More Common in Winter

Posted in
Date
16/12/2022
why electrical fires are more common in winter

Did you know that half of all heating and electrical fires occur between December and February? While this refers to domestic fires, there’s also an increased risk for businesses. In this post, we’ll discuss why that’s the case, the danger posed by electrical fires, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Why are electrical fires more likely in winter?

With more people at home and using more electricity, cooking appliances and heating equipment are the most common causes of house fires in the winter months.

Are these statistics the same for commercial properties? According to Vanguard, there is a definite, enhanced risk of electrical fires in businesses as boilers and heating equipment are in constant use, not to mention the dry air makes conditions flammable.

Office kitchens are in use more frequently in the winter as well. With kettles, microwaves, coffee machines and lights constantly on, it’s no surprise that electrical fires are more common in the colder months of the year.

The danger of electrical fires

It goes without saying that electrical fires are no laughing matter. But many people won’t think of the consequences until it’s too late. Here are three ways an electrical fire will affect your business.

Human harm

First and foremost, electrical fires pose a serious risk to yourself, your staff and anyone else on your premises. It only takes 30 seconds for a small flame to become a serious fire. Then it’s a matter of minutes before a building is immersed in flames or filled with smoke.

Even with a quick response from your staff, you can’t guarantee that everyone will get out before the fire takes hold. That leaves people at risk of serious burns from fire. But more deadly than that is the smoke and toxic gases they could inhale.

As a business owner or site manager, it’s your responsibility to protect anyone that’s on site at any time. Failure to do so isn’t just a moral issue – you could be fined heavily for negligence (more on this below).

Financial cost

Next there’s the financial damage of an electrical fire. Without prompt action to stop a fire at source, it can take hold of your entire premises. Even if everyone escapes unscathed, you’ll be left watching your business burn.

The first consideration is the equipment inside, which will typically be a lost cause. With fires reaching several hundred degrees Celsius, computers, machinery and appliances will be damaged beyond repair and even recognition. That means you’ll need to foot the bill to replace everything, or at least the excess on your insurance policy.

Then there’s the damage to the building. As well as cosmetic damage, fires can affect the structure of a building. You may need to have the building assessed before employees can return to work. Again, you’ll need to pay for eye-watering repairs or insurance excesses.

After all that, you could be subject to a fine if you’re in breach of fire safety rules. There have been several instances where companies were fined over £200,000 after fires at their premises.

Disruption

Last but not least, fires cause untold disruption to businesses. At best, you’re looking at poor morale following the trauma of a fire. There could also be absences or even a complete shutdown while your site is being restored.

Don’t forget the loss of physical documents. As much as digitalisation is taking over, many businesses still have important documents kept in paper form. Needless to say, they won’t stand a chance in an electrical fire.

So, what can you do?

To protect your business from fire risks, make sure you check the following:

  • Sockets – If your sockets show any signs of damage such as power cutting out, fuses blowing, scorch marks, noises or burning smells, it is essential that you replace them immediately. Their frequency of use means that they are a clear risk for causing electrical fires, if not maintained properly.
  • Heating system – It goes without saying that in winter, every business needs an effective heating system. Regular maintenance of your boiler and heating system will minimise the risk of fires starting due to faulty heating and in turn, increase safety and comfort for your team.
  • Appliances – It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure that all appliances pass portable appliance testing (PAT) by a certified electrician. This consists of both a visual inspection and electrical tests.
  • Lighting – Every electrical light fixture, regardless of its intended function, is a fire risk. This is due to the fact that an electrical connection is necessary. Frequent safety checks of your lighting system, especially your emergency lights, are essential.
  • Fire alarms – Having a fire alarm system is only effective if it actually works. Regular maintenance and knowing what to do when your system isn’t working will make all the difference in fire prevention. Your fire alarms should be tested twice a year by a professional, as well as being tested internally every week.
  • Fixed wiring – The system used to carry electricity around your building needs to be tested to ensure it can easily deal with the amount of electricity being used. Older wiring systems are sometimes unable to cope with the demands businesses place on them and circuits can be overloaded.
  • Flammable materials – Identifying flammable risks is essential in order to ensure proper storage procedures. This includes cleaning materials, the contents of stationery cupboards, cloakrooms, and so on.

Minimise electrical fire risks in winter with Volta Compliance

Protecting your business from electrical fires is what we do at Volta Compliance. Our expert team carry out comprehensive inspections of your electrical wiring and fire alarm systems, to minimise the risk of electrical fires breaking out due to faults and ensure your business is compliant with fire regulations.

We can also advise on the best way to protect against electrical fires in winter, giving you peace of mind in those risky months of the year. To arrange an inspection for your business, contact Volta Compliance’s friendly, experienced team today on 0113 397 1361 or email [email protected] and we’ll get back to you soon.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.
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