They may be considered an essential beauty aid by many women today, as well as many men, but hair straighteners can also pose a fire hazard if left unattended or unobserved. Anyone who regularly uses straighteners should avoid leaving them plugged in when not in use, and always make sure they are placed on a non-flammable surface to avoid causing combustion.
One of the inherent dangers of straighteners is that users may not be able to immediately identify whether they are switched ‘on’. While many straighteners will be fitted with a light that illuminates when they are plugged into the power supply, others may require a manual test to see if heat is being emitted, and this can make it easy to mistake ‘live’ straighteners for ones that are safe to be left unwatched.
Manufacturers of hair straighteners are aware of the dangers and, thankfully, many have been quick to respond – for instance, with products that switch themselves off automatically after 15 minutes. However, some users may be unaware of the dangers posed by this everyday object, which has led a number of fire services to issue safety warnings informing people of the risks.
The fire risk posed by straighteners is not to be underestimated, as devices left alone even for a few hours can cause small fires in carpets and bedding that can soon spread and damage other electronic equipment. Even if you are successful in putting out the fire, the damage to singed carpets could be permanent, and may not be covered if your buildings and contents insurance does not provide cover against accidents.
Some straighteners can reach temperatures of 220 degrees Celsius, which is hotter than the average cooking temperature, and anyone or anything that comes in contact with straighteners at that temperature could suffer severe damage. This makes it even more pressing for straighteners to be kept out of reach of small children, and users should also consider other aspects of their environment that may be unsafe – such as avoiding using electric straighteners in the bathroom or near to water sources. If you are relying on the bathroom mirror above the sink, it’s advisable to buy a portable mirror to use in your bedroom or other area of the house away from these dangers.
Getting into the habit of checking all electrical appliances to make sure they are switched off after use can be a prudent home safety measure. While some appliances such as your fridge and freezer are designed to operate day and night, unplugging devices such as straighteners after use can make your home a safer place.
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