Who's rewired their house for this hobby?

Peter Corlett abuse at cabal.org.uk
Mon Nov 24 20:55:40 CST 2014

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 04:11:45PM -0500, William Donzelli wrote:
> Just to feed the flames, here are some interesting statistics (2011)
> concerning electrical safety:
> UK:
> Total number of households: 26.4 million
> Total number of household fires due to electric issues: 20400
> US:
> Total number of households: 115 million
> Total number of household fires due to electric issues: 47700
> WTF, UK?
> (watch for wrap!)
> Refs:
> http://www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/news-and-campaigns/policies-and-research/statistics/
> http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fire-causes/electrical

An amusing comparison, but the reports are clearly not measuring the same

The UK fires count fires that involved electrical appliances, which does not
necessarily mean it was down to an electrical fault.  Most of the 20,403 fires
are "misuse" (10,735 fires) of "cooking appliances" (11,954 fires).  I suspect
these are mainly of the "forgot the grill was on" kind, and would continue to
occur even if the properties didn't have electricity at all!  The odds of dying
if one has such a fire is 0.22% which are pretty good odds.  The injury rate is
12% but it's not defined what an injury is.

I suspect this mainly comes from emergency services figures: the fire brigade
being called out to wake up a drunkard whose kitchen is full of smoke counts as
a "fire", and a subsequent trip to A&E for a check-up for smoke inhalation and
to bandage minor burns counts as an "injury".

There were "21,300 reported U.S. non-confined home structure fires involving
electrical distribution or lighting equipment resulted in 295 civilian deaths"
i.e. a 14% risk of death from the fire.  These are clearly more major
incidents, directly caused by dodgy wiring or other dangerous electrical work.

For the UK, the page contradicts itself in claiming eight deaths due to
"Installations" but ten due to "Electricity supply - Wiring, cabling, plugs".
That is some four or five times less lethal per capita than the USA.

Fires and electrocutions are caused by *current*, and the voltage is very much
a red herring.  America should be treating its 110V supplies with the same
respect the rest of the world gives to 220V, and not just half-jobbing it due
to myths about the lower voltage being inherently safer.

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