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If household appliances suddenly catch fire - what to do?

Avoid electrical fires: Everything you need to know about the underestimated danger


When thinking about an apartment fire, images of burning candles and glowing cigarette butts quickly come to mind. Few of them think of a smoking dishwasher. Electrical household appliances can also cause a fire. But how quickly can electrical devices become a risk? How does a fire start? How can you prevent? And how should you act in the event of a fire? Find out all about burning electrical appliances in order to protect yourself ideally at home.



When can household appliances become a risk?

Statistically speaking it burns every ten minutes in German households. About every third fire is caused by electricity triggered. Because even if most household appliances are already very safe, all of them are potential sources of ignition.

Typical causes for the fire of an electrical device are:

  • Arc short circuit
  • Too high useful heat
  • Contact failure
  • Defective control or regulation device
  • overload
  • Bad workmanship with cheap devices

Continuous operation & useful heat

The carries a great risk Continuous operation of devicesthat are only designed to operate for a short period of time. Straighteners, for example, are designed to straighten hair and should not be misused for "ironing" wrinkled clothes, even on vacation.

While also mixers, vacuum cleaners and drills not designed for continuous operation are, is the dangerous For example, straighteners, hair dryers and waffle irons that the Devices have a heating function and thus develop a lot of heat during operation.

also electrical devices generally emit useful heat when in operationwhy the Fan or the Heat dissipation are particularly important and should never be covered. Who ever one Laptop on the duvet for a long time knows what a big difference a working fan can make. Unstable or easily flammable surfaces can also increase the risk of fire.

While toasters and curling irons are not designed for permanent operation, a clock can tick non-stop because it is battery-operated, develops a negligible amount of useful heat and there is no need to fear flying sparks.

Risk of fire from damaged devices

A increased fire risk exists even if the device Shows damage. Especially Kinked, broken or only partially insulated cables are often not noticed for a long time and ultimately lead to fire.

Also loose components or material breakage can damage the device. Especially with Cheap goods there is a risk of inadequate processing quality. The consequences: Short circuits, sparks, cable fires or overheating of the device.

Is the electrical appliance improperly connected or will repaired without sufficient expertise, a fire can also occur here. Cables connected with superglue may look deceptively good, but are absolutely unsuitable for operation.

Note: If dust has accumulated inside an electrical device, it can lead to a Heat build-up cause a fire. Dust not only prevents the device from being properly ventilated, it is instantly on fire if there is a flying sparks.


How does a fire start?

Basically, there is some form of fire behind an electrical appliance fire creeping or sudden development of heat and also inflammable materials are always involved.

The one in the room Oxygen serves as an oxidizing agent for fire. The more heat energy is created and the more easily combustible the materials are, the easier it is for the fire devil.

Mostly evolves first a smoldering fire in or around the electrical appliance. The Air in the room heats up and the fire spreads by leaps and bounds over the combustible materials. It is often underestimated how quickly a smoldering fire develops into an uncontrollable fire.

Note: The dangerous thing in a fire is not only the fire itself, but also the smoke it creates. Depending on the materials being burned, highly toxic smoke can develop quickly and there is a risk of it Smoke poisoning.   

How does a fire start in the event of a short circuit?

The two different potentials of each power source are always striving to balance. Usually the current has to be there Path through the ladder or the electrical device search that is connected to the power source and thus between the two poles.

Due to the electrical resistance of the device, this is a detour for the current. Consists from penetrating water or a damaged cable the possibility of going directly to the other pole, the current prefers this faster path with less resistance.

It comes to one Short circuit, in which by the negligibly low resistance A lot of electricity can flow in a very short time can. If the connected electrical device or cable heats up too much, a Fire started.


Which household appliance catches fire most often?

Even those who do not use the hair dryer to dry their clothes, but actually have a tumble dryer, should use the Deal with Electrical Fire Risk. Because actually it is Tumble dryer in 1st place of the most common household appliances causing fire in Germany.

There is a short circuit, dryers catch fire within a few minutes, for which the Fluff a found food are. It also arises from fire highly toxic smoke from carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride and hydrogen cyanide.

The Kiel Institute for Loss Prevention and Loss Research e. V. (IFS) names next to Tumble dryers also ranked first as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines among the most common causes of fire. All of these devices exhibit significant Risk factors such as operation with mains voltage, integrated heating devices, vibrations during operation and moisture inside on.

Are multiple sockets dangerous?

On 5th place The IFS names the most common causes of fire among electrical household appliances Multiple sockets. The big problem with multiple socket strips is that many underestimate the potential danger that this poses. Will the multiple socket treated too roughly and mechanically damaged or through too large consumers overloaded, a fire may occur.

Note: While Televisions A few years ago they were among the biggest causes of electrical fire, the IFS now lists them in 6th place. Because even if the cigarette box still burns and explodes, tube televisions, which are relatively susceptible to interference, are less and less represented in German households.


The kitchen also poses a high risk of fire

If there is a fire in the kitchen, oil was not forcibly poured into the hot water. Through the Numerous electrical appliances used in the kitchen pose an increased risk of fire.

According to the IFS, there is over one Third of all kitchen fires around stove fires. Most of these fires start on the Items placed on the stove top Fire because it was switched on by mistake.

But also in A fire can start in the ovenif it is accidentally left on and there is, for example, some baking paper left in it. Another common source of danger Devices that have a technical defect inside.

If the kettle and toaster are plugged in even when not in use, they can be damaged in the event of internal damage, for example catch fire by short circuiting. With coffee machines, the The automatic switch-off of the integrated heating plate will break. The permanent heating ultimately leads to a fire in the housing.

Note: Coffee machines with pods and fully automatic coffee machines have small heating elements, which is why there is less risk of fire here.

What can you do to avoid fires at home? What precautions can you take?

Technical defects and human error can hardly be completely ruled out. Still there is important steps to take to avoid a fire at home. It is not always the most convenient way to go about it, however great damage can be prevented with little effort.

With these Take precautions to prevent a fire:

  • Leave electrical devices not unattended turned on.
  • Install smoke detector in all rooms with permanently operated electrical devices (already a requirement in some federal states). If you don't want to watch the tumble dryer in the basement drying, install at least a smoke detector here as well.
  • Turn off devicesinstead of leaving them in stand-by mode.
  • Pull out the plugwhen a device is not required.
  • Keep appropriate Fire extinguisher close at hand on.
  • Let Check electrical appliancesthat don't work properly.
  • Do not overload the electric motors of your devices and give them enough breaks. If the toaster is glowing, this is not a special effect.
  • Take advantage of the Electric stove especially careful: Do not leave the kitchen with the stove on. Use the Hotplate not as a storage space.
  • Operate not several large consumers at the same time at a socket.
  • Close powerful devices such as dishwashers, tumble dryers, and washing machines never to a multiple socket at.
  • hold the Ventilation openings of electrical devices always free. Especially with fridges and freezers, make sure that no heat builds up.
  • Operate electrical devices only on stable surfaces and away from easily inflammable materials.

tip: Information on the proper handling of a specific electrical device and notes on operation can be found in the operation manual.


What should you do in the event of a fire?

If you do get a fire at home, you should do not panic under any circumstances. Keep your cool and be level headed with the right behavior to minimize the damage. Make sure the Children leave the danger zone and close doors and windowsso that the fire does not spread any further.

Now it is important depending on the extent and type of fire to react. Only try to put out the fire yourself if you are able to do not endanger yourself. For small fires, you can try to put out the fire yourself.

If your attempt to extinguish the fire fails or the fire is already too big, get yourself to safety. Avoid smoky hallways and roomsin order not to endanger yourself from the toxic smoke from the fire. Also the You shouldn't take the elevatorbecause it gets stuck in the event of a power failure.

Once you are safe, notify the fire brigade immediately on 112. This will ask you, among other things, about your exact location, your name, the location of the fire and the situation. Answer any questions you may have. Do not hang upbefore the fire service clearly instructs you to do so.

tip: Do not open windows and doors until the fire has been completely extinguished and there is no longer any embers. If you ventilate too early, the incoming oxygen can cause the fire to flare up again.

How do you extinguish burning electrical appliances?

Is it a small fire, you can extinguish burning electrical devices such as irons, toasters or coffee machines as follows:

  • Turn the Fuse of the affected circuit or in case of doubt the Main fuse to disconnect the burning electrical device from the power supply.
  • If the fuse box is too far away or is out of the question for other reasons, unplug the device - if possible with insulated pliers.
  • Put out the fire with a Fire blanket or a fire extinguisher. As a rule, for example, boiler rooms are equipped with a fire extinguisher.

Note: Similar to a grease fire is also a fire in an electrical appliance Water is not the correct extinguishing agent. Even when the device is disconnected from the mains, capacitors (e.g. in televisions) can still contain high voltage. There is a risk of electric shock.


Conclusion: There is a little fire devil in every electrical appliance

When it comes to electrical appliances, there's nothing that doesn't exist. From egg boilers to film sealing machines leads nowadays every household has numerous household electrical appliances. Even if these have been properly tested and certified, it is potential arsonists.

However, anyone who is aware of the risk of an electrical fire can take simple precautionsto reduce the risks in your own four walls. Operate your devices do not leave them unattended and protect them from overload. In addition, sufficient fire detectors should always be installed.

Statistically speaking, iMost electrical appliance fires in the kitchenwhich is why particular caution is required here. If you do not use the hob unsupervised or as a storage surface, you are already ruling out a third of all kitchen fires.

But even those who handle their electrical appliances properly can do one Do not completely rule out a fire in your own four walls. There may be damage inside an electrical device that cannot be seen from the outside, or errors in the handling of the devices may occur.

But also Precautions can be taken in the event of a fire. Who knows how to act properly in a fire and with the appropriate extinguishing agents equipped can limit damage and save lives. So always stay calm and, if in doubt, die Call the fire brigade for help!

If household appliances suddenly catch fire - what to do?