I received the following enquiry regarding the safety of washing machines and other appliances regarding fire risks. -
There seems to be a lot of news about washing machines catching fire and advice not to leave them unattended. We do have a smoke alarm but is there any other way of safeguarding against them catching fire?
I’m afraid the risk of appliances such as dishwashers tumble dryers and washing machines catching fire is always present if relatively rare. The advice from the Fire services is to always install a smoke alarm near to the appliance if it is left unattended, but this can be impractical if the appliance is in the kitchen because of cooking activity setting them off.
There isn’t anything you can do to prevent an appliance catching fire, if a fault is going to develop and cause a fire it will happen. The best you can do is to not ignore any leaks or any other faults if present, and don’t overload the wall socket by plugging too many appliances in. I was once advised by a fireman that the square adapters that go into a socket should also be avoided.
Make sure you always register your appliances. Many dangerous faults, once discovered, are the subject of safety recalls or notices. The first thing a manufacture will do if they discover a serious safety issue with one of their appliances is to contact everyone on their database. If you haven’t registered, then they can’t.
The only safe thing is to not really leave them unattended but many people can’t easily do this. My own washing machine for example is in our garage which is a separate building as are two of my refrigeration appliances. We also leave our dishwasher on in the kitchen whilst we are sat in the lounge, no one could be expected to stand and watch an appliance. At the end of the day it’s a modern-day risk we all take, and the best we can do is never leave the house or go to bed while such an appliance is running. At least if someone is around they are likely to either smell or see the smoke and be in a position to try and deal with it.
For the extra cautious I would advise keeping a fire extinguisher which is suitable for use in electrical fires to hand. I have a small home fire extinguisher in a corner of my kitchen near to the door similar to those available on 4Washerhelp Find fire extinguishers suitable for use on home Appliances
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