A South Cheshire couple ended up in hospital after a fire in their home was sparked by a charging e-cigarette.
Jennifer Brown, 35, and Scot Washington, 34, suffered smoke inhalation after managing to extinguish the fire in an upstairs bedroom in their house in Crewe.
Today they said they and their four children Claramae, Mia and Harley and Hayden were lucky to be alive and issued a warning to others using and charging e-cigarettes.
Jennifer said: “We were incredibly lucky.
“Scot and I felt dizzy after putting out the fire due to the amount of smoke we’d inhaled and we had to go to hospital to be checked over.
“We were discharged a few hours later and the only things that were damaged by the fire were the bedroom carpet, a pillow and a child’s toy bag.
“Thankfully, the fire started shortly before 11am when we were all awake.
“I shudder to think what would have happened had the e-cigarette been put on charge at night when we were all asleep.”
A popping noise in the unoccupied bedroom alerted the couple of the fire at their home in Barthomley Crescent.
When Scot opened the bedroom door, smoke flooded out which set off smoke alarms in the house and the couple’s four children immediately evacuated the premises.
Jennifer and Scot unplugged the charger and used nearby bottles of water to put out the fire before seeking medical attention.
The incident has left them both shaken up.
Jennifer added: “When something like that happens to you, it makes you realise the importance of following fire safety advice.
“Not doing so can put your home and your and your family’s lives at risk.
“Claramae is 15, Mia is 12, Hayden is 10 and Harley is three.
“We have always taught them to get straight out of the house if there is ever a fire and are really proud of them for doing so.
“We are safety conscious as a family and when the e-cigarette and the battery we bought from a shop did not come with a plug we endeavoured to buy the right sort of plug for it from eBay.
“We knew we needed a plug suitable for the voltage required to charge the e-cigarette.
“Yet despite us having quite good knowledge in this area, the e-cigarette caused a fire on only the third occasion it was charged.
“It had been charging for around 20 minutes before the fire started.
“We never thought for a minute that charging the e-cig would cause a fire in the house, but the important thing is that we are all okay.
“I fear that others may not be so lucky.”
Nick Evans, Head of Prevention at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “I am relieved to hear no one was seriously injured as a result of the fire and that it did not cause significant damage to the family-of-six’s home.
“I agree that the family have been very lucky in this instance.
“This incident highlights the importance of only using a charger and plug that comes with an e-cigarette and never leaving e-cigs unattended while charging.
“The family did have working smoke alarms fitted, which is always encouraged, as is ensuring that they are tested regularly.”
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service safety advice for e-cigarette users:
– Ensure that you buy your e-cigarette from a reputable source – that way if something goes wrong you can contact the retailer or manufacturer to deal with any problems
– Check that the e-cigarette carries CE certification
– Never buy an e-cigarette unless it has instructions on how to charge it safely
– Ensure that details of the manufacturer, including its contact details, are provided
– Only use a charger and plug that comes with an e-cigarette and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
– Connections of other chargers may seem similar, or even identical, but the power rating may be different, which can cause a fire
– Do not mix components of different e-cigarettes
– Never charge a battery that has been damaged, dropped or struck
– Never leave e-cigarettes on charge unattended for long periods, especially not overnight
– Do not overcharge – remove the battery from the charge when it is complete
– Check that your battery has overcharge or overheat protection
– Do not charge an e-cigarette if any of the components are wet
– Do not overtighten the atomiser when connecting it to the charger
– Do not overload plug sockets – an extension lead or adaptor will have a limit in terms of how many amps it can take
– Make sure that you have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home
– Test your smoke alarms regularly
– Make sure that you have an effective plan of action to escape should a fire ever start in your home
– Close doors to prevent fire from spreading
If a fire starts in your home, get out, stay out and call 999.
Never use water on an electrical fire, do not take risks with your safety and only pull the plug out or switch the power off if it is safe to do so.
If you have any safety concerns regarding e-cigarettes or chargers you own, contact Trading Standards.
For more information about smoke alarms and escape routes, visit https://www.cheshirefire.gov.uk/public-safety/home-safety
(Pic – family-of-six from left to right is Scot, Mia, Hayden, Claramae, Jennifer and Harley)
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