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Homes in danger as Brits ignore basic safety checks

Brits are falling short and leaving their families open to potential dangers in the home – and a lack of basic action on home safety is putting their homes in peril.

According to new research by the Consumer Protection Alliance, over half of Brits (55%) do not unplug electric appliances that are not designed to be left on and some 52% do not know how to test their that smoke alarm is working. A staggering 62% of Brits don’t check that their gas hob is turned off before going to bed.

The Consumer Protection Alliance group is made up of the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, Gas Safe Register, NICEIC and Which? Trusted Traders, with the aim of promoting consumer safety and protection in the UK.

Other findings were that 44% of Brits admit that they do not carry out annual safety checks on their electrical appliances – 42% of these don’t know how to check them, over one-third (34%) don’t know which appliances need checking and almost one-quarter (23%) ‘can’t be bothered’ to organise the check.

Moreover, 28% would wait until an appliance had completely broken down before being they get it checked, meaning what could have been a simple check develops into a major issue. More than one-quarter (26%) would only organise a safety check-up when they heard about a friend’s misfortune, such as a boiler breaking down or the hob conking out.

Cheryl Cox, public affairs manager at NICEIC and member of the Consumer Protection Alliance, says: “It’s worrying that the nation is turning their attention away from safety in the home, and that some wouldn’t even consider using the professionals in times of need.

“Gas and electrical safety is important year-round, but especially during the winter months when an extra strain is placed on our appliances in the home. We tend to forget that our appliances such as the boiler, gas hob and hot water cylinder are used so frequently that they need extra maintenance. Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers and we believe that safety is paramount, and education is key.”

Worryingly, the survey of 2,000 British adults also revealed a lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to home safety:
• 64% have ended up paying a professional to fix a botched job that was carried out by a ‘cowboy’ tradesperson, which has resulted in spending up to an extra £500 on average
• 26% were unaware that a boiler should have an annual safety check
• 17% believe they could carry out a check on gas appliances themselves, with over three in five (63%) taking instructions and guidance from online resources such as Google, YouTube or social media
• 22% don’t know how, or simply wouldn’t bother, to check if their chosen tradesperson is registered in their profession.

In response, the Consumer Protection Alliance has launched a national consumer safety campaign warning homeowners and landlords about the dangers lurking in the home. Brits are advised to think safety first, with these five top tips to ensuring safe homes:
1. Install smoke alarms and CO alarms where appropriate and test them on a regular basis
2. Arrange for an annual safety check on boilers, gas fires, gas hobs and hot water cylinders
3. Carry out a visual check every year on plugs, sockets, cables, leads and light fittings and seek help from a registered electrician if you find any issues
4. Arrange for an inspection and test of electrical installations every five years, regardless of whether the property is owned or rented
5. When having a gas or electrical safety check carried out, always hire a registered, professional tradesperson such as those on the Gas Safe Register or those registered with NICEIC

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