Leeds Students are ‘Playing with Fire’ When it Comes to Electrical Safety, Study Shows

Most first year students have never lived on their own prior to university. As a result, they are often ill-informed about kitchen safety, or don’t take it as seriously as they should. UK Charity Electrical Safety First is attempting to change this.

They recently conducted a survey, revealing the extent of Leeds students’ carelessness in the kitchen. 1 in 5 students from the University of Leeds admitted to falling asleep while cooking food, potentially risking fire. 4 in 5 readily admitted to leaving food unattended when cooking, due to distractions.

The temptation to end a night out with food is also putting students at risk: 61% of Leeds students also admitted to cooking while drunk. Electrical Safety First urges students not to ‘Drink and Fry’; students are much more likely to start a fire when cooking drunk compared to sober, and similarly, much less capable of dealing with a potential fire safely.

Between 2012 and 2017 alone, 911 accidental fires were reported to emergency services in student halls of residence – the equivalent to five fires a week in the academic year. Those in student accommodation often live in flats of five or more, and entire residential blocks may be home to hundreds – carelessness in the kitchen puts everyone at risk. Over two thirds of students surveyed admitted to worrying that their flatmates might start an electrical fire through recklessness.

However, students may also be putting themselves at risk for their own entertainment. A quarter of Leeds University students said that they’d put something dangerous in the microwave that they shouldn’t have; across the country, lightbulbs and condoms were among the items students had microwaved for fun.

Emma Drackford, the charity’s Director of Communications, gave the following statement: “Leeds has so much to offer, including a great night life, however as you return to study or start your exciting journey at one of the country’s best universities we’re urging you all to take care in the kitchen.

Referencing the staggeringly high number of students admitting to cooking drunk, she commented: “There was never a better excuse to order your favourite take out after a night on the town with your friends. Try and think twice, don’t drink and fry.”

Electrical Safety First has further advice for students on staying safe in university accommodation online: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/students

Megan Cummings, News Editor

Image: [National Fire Protection Association]