HOMEOWNERS and landlords risk catastrophic house fires if their kitchens are too dirty, according to safety experts from an East Lancs firm.
The recent Grenfell Tower tragedy in London saw dozens lose their lives after what's thought to be a faulty fridge freezer set the block ablaze.
But watchdogs have warned that checking your appliances are working correctly is only half the story, as many don’t realise that dust, dirt and grime in your home could also be putting you at risk.
The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) has warned about the problem, saying, ‘busy lifestyles mean cleaning is not a priority, putting households at risk’.
They claim around four million people in the UK have experienced a so-called ‘grime fire’ in their kitchen because it hasn’t been scrubbed properly.
And Ranjen Gohri, a safety specialist with UK home appliance cover firm 24|7 Home Rescue, headquartered in Clayton-le-Moors, East Lancs, says something as minor as crumbs in a toaster could create carnage.
Mr Gohri, who offers specialist landlord cover, says: “There’s a big onus right now on checking household appliances to make sure they’re not subject to a manufacturer’s recall.
“And of course, it’s vitally important that you make sure nothing in your home has been identified as a potential fire risk, particularly things like fridge freezers, dishwashers and tumble dryers.
“But what’s often overlooked is that homeowners could be creating a fire hazard of their own making be simply not cleaning properly or regularly.
“It’s an unseen problem.
“If you’ve got excessive amounts of grease in your oven or grill, it can easily combust, and grease fires can be the hardest to put out.
“If your toaster is full of crumbs, they too have been proved to cause house fires.
“Even grease and grime filled ventilation ducts can catch fire if not cleaned properly.
"If you've got excessive amounts of grease in your oven or grill, it can easily combust, and grease fires can be the hardest to put out."
Mr Ranjen Gohri
“And if you’ve got excessive amounts of dust and filth blocking vents in hard to reach areas, like the back of your fridge, you’re also asking for trouble.
“From our point of view, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the dangers.”
The Electrical Safety Council recently unveiled stats from their own research that suggested a third of people can’t remember the last time their oven or the area behind their fridge was cleaned .
One in seven admit to regularly blocking vents with objects, and one in ten even confess to leaving flammable items next to heat sources.
And more than half of all house fires in the UK are started by kitchen appliances - around 20,000 each year.
They say, ‘hectic lifestyles are often to blame for not cleaning the kitchen properly’, while adding ‘a fifth of people confess to putting themselves at risk because they are just too lazy to clean as well as they should.’
Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: “People are increasingly busy and have so much going on it’s easy for cleaning to take a backseat, but a build up of grime, dust and even food crumbs in kitchen appliances can cause fires or stop them working.
“Grime can often build up without you realising, so you might think you have a clean kitchen but if you look closer there can be an electrical fire waiting to happen.
“I’d urge everyone to clean their appliances as often as possible, and take care not to leave objects lying around in the kitchen that could ignite or block ventilation.”
Mr Gohri, meanwhile, says appliance ‘misuse’ is also a recurring problem they’re faced with.
He explains: “We’ve had engineers called out for everything from householders putting washing up liquid into a dishwasher, to putting kitchen foil in the microwave.
“We’ve even seen fires caused by people trying to make a cheese toastie in a standard toaster.
“Needless to say, all of these are extremely dangerous and can cause big problems for your kitchen appliances.
“To get the most out of your appliances you really need to use them as they are intended. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and keep on top of maintenance.
“Keep the coils on the back of your fridge free of dust and dirt to ensure it’s working properly, and check the seals around the doors for any tears or damage which may allow warm air to get inside.”
“Small devices should be unplugged, especially those with heating elements inside, and appliances should be wiped down after every use.
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