DEVON & Somerset Fire & Rescue is urging people not to overload plug sockets amid concerns over accidental fires in homes.

Faulty electrics, appliances, wiring and overloaded sockets all cause around 7,000 house fires across the country every year.

Kevin Connon, a crew manager from Torquay Fire Station, said: “I recently carried out a Home Safety Visit at an elderly lady’s home and I was shocked at the amount of overloading of plugs I found in one house.

“To avoid the risk of overheating and possibly fire, our advice is to never plug into an extension lead or socket appliances that together use more than 13 amps or 3,000 watts of energy.

“I highlighting the potential dangers to the lady and quickly replaced all the plugs with safe alternatives. The next day I arranged to meet her son at the property as I had discovered the fuse board was very old with loose wires and a fire risk in need of replacing ASAP. An electrician was called and the fuse board was replaced the following day.”

The Electrical Safety Council has created an easy to use calculator where you can plug in some typical household appliances to see the effect on the load.

The calculator is intended to help you understand how you can avoid overloading your sockets and reduce the risk of fire.

Top tips for plugs and sockets l Watch for signs of dangerous or loose wiring such as: scorch marks, hot plugs and sockets, fuses that often blow, circuit breakers that trip for no obvious reasons and flickering lights.

l Don’t overloaded sockets – plugging too many electrical appliances into one socket can lead to overheating.

l Certain appliances, such as washing machines, should have a single plug to themselves, as they are high powered.

l An extension lead or adaptor will have a limit to how many amps it can take, so be careful not to overload them to reduce the risk of fire. Appliances use different amounts of power – a television may use a 3amp plug and a vacuum cleaner a 5amp plug for example.

l Look out for signs of badly wired plugs – any coloured wires sticking out could come loose and debris could also get into the plug making it a fire hazard.

l Never cut sealed plugs off to use them again.