People working from home have been warned about overloading sockets, daisy chaining, and charging devices on beds during lockdown.
Electrical Safety First is concerned that many may be putting themselves at unnecessary risk due to unsafe electrical set-ups, amid a rise in remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A recent survey by charity found that more than one in three of those currently using extension leads or adaptors as part of their work from home set-up are unaware of the dangers from overloading plug sockets.
Of those who said they do use extension leads or adaptors, 44% admitted to daisy chaining, where one extension lead is plugged into another, which could pose a fire risk.
“As many people set up temporary home offices and adjust to a new way of working, there could potentially be a rise in electrical fires,” warned Rick Hylton, lead for home safety at the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
“So, the fire service ask that you check you have working smoke alarms and a practised escape plan in case there is a fire.
“But also make sure you follow the simple advice to reduce your risk of an electrical fire.
“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.”
The survey of 3,000 people also suggests bad habits by home workers in the bedroom, with more than half admitting to either often or sometimes placing an electrical item such as a laptop or phone on their bed while it is charging.
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
Be mindful of cables - they can present a trip hazard
Don’t daisy chain extension leads
If cooking at lunchtime, be mindful not to get distracted by emails or work calls that may result in the hob being left on, unattended
Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “With 70% 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 are charging your devices on hard, non-flammable surfaces.”
“We should all pay extra attention to electrical safety during our period of remote working.”
The charity urged the public to try its Socket Overload Calculator to check they are not plugging too many appliances in at once, on its website, electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk.