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Residents urged to Take Charge and Be Safe with electrical presents this Christmas

As the festive season approaches residents are urged to Take Care and Be Safe, while looking for electrical items as presents this Electrical Safety Week.

Following an increase of incidents over the past year involving electrical items, particularly chargers for electric bikes and scooters, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people to make sure they are buying the correct chargers from reputable retailers. As part of Electrical Safety Week, the Service is highlighting how residents can help keep themselves and families safe by following a few simple safety measures, like adding fire safety to your bedtime routine and being awake when using and charging some devices or appliances.

Station Commander Gareth Boyd, Community Risk Manager at the Service, said: “Not only are electrical devices a key part of everyday life for most people, but they also make great Christmas presents for family members and friends. Electrical bikes and scooters are on many people’s present list, along with mobile phones, tablets, laptops and games consoles with controllers. Even things like electric cigarettes and vapes. All these require charging as they contain lithium-ion batteries.

“This year our crews have dealt with an increased number of incidents involving e-bikes, e-scooters and lithium battery powered devices. We’ve seen residents have some fortunate escapes where they’ve realised the battery is experiencing thermal runaway, meaning it’s heating up to the point it’s ready to explode. As a result these have been safely removed before they cause any damage. Most devices come with failsafe features to ensure they do not overheat when being charged, but rely on the manufacturers provided charging cables and adapters to work. Also, using the plugs and wires supplied with product rather than cheaper versions will help charge devices safely.

“There was also the tragic incident in Cambridge where a mother and two children lost their lives after a charging e-bike battery exploded. This has had a significant impact on our staff and the local community.”

The Service is reminding people to Take Charge and Be Safe, not only when charging their devices, but also when planning on purchasing devices and presents. Also, checking the devices come with appropriate chargers and batteries, while also making sure any new or spare chargers are the correct specification.

Gareth added: “People can follow some simple tips to help keep them and their families safe. Most new items come with a suitable battery and charger, however if you are looking to purchase additional ones then make sure they are the right voltage and are fully compatible. Other things like charging a mobile phone while you are awake and alert, rather than while sleeping, means the device won’t be overcharged and risk overheating the battery. This can be the same for any device.”

The Service is encouraging people to plan a good bedtime routine. Things like making sure all internal doors are closed, electrical sockets are switched off, any candles or heating appliances are off and keeping hallways and stairs clear of obstructions. This will not only help prevent a fire from happening but also ensure an easy escape if one does.

Gareth added: “Many fires in the home start at night while people are asleep. This can be down to a number of different causes, but can be easily avoided by following a few simple tips, as well as having working smoke alarms on each floor of your home. A bedtime routine is a great way to help you and your family stay fire safe in your home. By following a few simple tips before heading to bed for the night, you can prevent a fire from happening or, if one does break out, stop it from spreading."

Residents can also use our online home safety check to carry out their own fire risk assessment of their home. This simple to use tool goes through each area of a property and generates a safety plan for the occupants to follow. The check can be carried out on behalf of a vulnerable family member. Find out more in the Home Fire Safety section.