What are the deadliest household appliances?


house fire

The washing machine, dishwasher and microwave may be life-savers when it comes to helping you escape the misery of domestic drudgery. However, if you're unlucky then these life-saving household appliances can become killers.

So what are the deadliest household appliances?

Around 70 people are killed every year, and 350,000 people are injured, as a result of a fire caused by an electrical appliance. These may be faulty models, or they may be used incorrectly - the figures show that most of the problem is misuse, but in 2012 alone almost 8,000 fires were the result of faults.

Either way it's worth being aware of the risks: so the Electrical Safety Council has listed the appliances most likely to cause fires.

1. Ovens

Cooking appliances including ovens and microwaves account for the most fires and injuries in the UK. In 2012 they started almost 12,000 fires, causing almost 1,500 injuries, and 10 deaths. There are models with flaws which can cause the fires, but often this is a case of misuse.

2. Wiring and plugs

They may seem so simple that they cannot cause problems, but faulty or ageing wiring and plugs - or too many plugs in a single adapter can easily start a fire. They were responsible for 3,899 fires in 2012, causing 223 injuries and ten deaths.

One major culprit is overloading sockets. With more gadgets than ever in the home, often the minimum number that are added as standard are not enough, so we overload each socket with adapters and extension cables. The Norfolk Fire Service advises "If in doubt, pull it out". The rule is one plug per socket, especially if the appliance takes a lot of power (like a kettle).

3. Washing machines and tumble dryers

A Which? survey actually claimed that washing machines and tumble dryers are the biggest fire risk of all. They caused 1,083 fires and 80 injuries in 2012.

Most fires here are the result of faults. Sometimes electrical wiring shorts and causes a fire, alternatively the friction of an incorrectly revolving drum can cause sparks. A lint build-up in a dryer can also contribute to the risks.

4. Lighting

Faulty sockets, poorly installed lights, loose 'chocolate boxes' where light fittings are attached to the wires, and faulty side lamps or night lights can all cause electrical fires.

However, you also have to watch for where bulbs can come into contact with light shades. A knock can cause the bulb to touch the side of the shade, and the heat will eventually lead to a fire. In 2012 lighting caused to 767 fires, 74 injuries and one death.

5. Dishwashers

These caused 475 fires and 68 injuries in 2012. The government's fire statistics show that overwhelmingly these were caused by faulty products rather than misuse, and the experts stress that this is why it's so important that we don't leave these appliances running while we go out, just in case a fault develops.

Protect your home

Protecting yourself is often a case of making sure you use these appliances correctly. Stuart Horth, Head of Community Safety at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, says: "Our most important message is whenever you cook do not get distracted. Many of the fires we attend are where people have left things cooking and forgotten them and in some cases even left the house. If you get called away from the cooker by the phone, or someone at the door - take the pans off the heat. It's all too easy to forget about them until it's too late."

You also need to make sure you will be aware if there is ever a recall of products you have around the house. Electrical products make up around 8% of all recalls, with more than 150 a year. Which? found that 23% of consumers have owned a recalled product, and 5% of them just carried on using it anyway.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "It's shocking that everyday household appliances can pose such a danger. People's safety must be the priority, so manufacturers should act fast to recall products as soon as they realise they're faulty."

There should be notices hung in retailers and published in national newspapers when a product is recalled. However, it also pays to be aware of any new recalls on the RecallUK website, which aims to bring recalls together so you can check that your appliances are still considered safe. It also outlines the best process for ensuring that none of your household appliances have been subject to a recall.