Did you know that over half of all fires in Scottish homes are caused by cooking appliances? Or that electrical fires have a bigger impact in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK? To find out more, Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, made sure to visit Electrical Safety First’s stand at the recent SNP conference in Glasgow.
“Research by Electrical Safety First shows that many people are making easily avoidable mistakes when cooking – mistakes which could cause significant damage or injury”, explains Mr Beattie. “I discovered that around a third of Scots admit to leaving a hob or oven on after use, with a third also admitting to being distracted while cooking. And one in five confessed to having cooked while drunk. We tend to regard the kitchen as the heart of a home but with more than half of all fires starting there, it can also be the most risky room in the house – if you don’t ‘watch what you heat’.”
It’s a view echoed by Wayne Mackay, Electrical Safety First’s Public Affairs Manager for Scotland. “Electricity is so essential to modern life that we often forget its inherent risk and don’t treat it with the respect it deserves”, adds Wayne. “So we work closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of electrical safety - and engage with government to make sure everyone is electrically safe in their home.”
The Charity is calling on the Scottish Government to make a commitment to reduce the number of domestic electrical fires by at least 10% over the next five years. It also wants to see a government-backed awareness campaign to highlight the risks and steps people can take to avoid an electrical fire in their home, as well as improved reporting of domestic electrical fires. In the meantime, Electrical Safety First has come up with a list of top tips for keeping safe in the kitchen.
Top tips for Kitchen Safety
· If you have a cooking fire, close the door, leave the room and call 999. Never use water on any electrical fire and never throw water on hot oil, as it can create a fireball.
· Stay alert and don’t get distracted when you cook – and always switch ovens or hobs off when you have finished using them.
· Ensure cooking appliances are clean, with oven mitts or flammable materials kept away from the hob.
· Never leave a hob completely unattended. If you have to nip out of the kitchen when cooking, be aware of timing and stay nearby. ‘Absence’ is a major cause of cooking fires in Scotland.
· Don’t store things on top of a microwave, where the vents are. The vents prevent overheating but if blocked, dirty or dusty, a fire is much more likely to escape and spread.
· Avoid cooking if you are tired, or have been drinking or taking medication that might make you drowsy – it increases the risk of leaving ovens and hobs unattended, which can lead to fires, burns and other accidents.
For more advice on kitchen safety visit: https://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/around-the-home/kitchen-safety/
Join the conversation on Twitter #WatchWhatYouHeat
For general information on electrical safety, visit: electricalsafetyfirsty.org.uk
 Data derived from Scottish Fire and Rescue Services 2016
 Countrywide survey for Electrical Safety First August 2016