Dishwasher blaze warning after Carrick couple's lucky
A retired teacher has described how he escaped serious injury after a fire at his home - caused by running a dishwasher at night.
Lindsay Davison said he and his wife Joan were woken by the sound of their smoke alarm, and found their hallway full of thick smoke and the kitchen ablaze.
Mr Davison added that he dreaded to think what might have happened had the smoke alarm not woken them.
The couple told their story as part of Fire Safety Week, which runs until Sunday, to raise awareness about the causes of accidental fires in the home.
In the last three years, 26% of all fires in the home were caused by electrical appliances and electricity supply.
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said running electrical appliances overnight was putting householders at unnecessary extra risk, citing the Davisons' story.
Mr Davison, from Carrickfergus, described how he had programmed the dishwasher to start in the early hours of June 1, as he had for many years.
"I'd never considered the dishwasher a fire hazard," he said. "I turned off all the plugs and closed all the doors in my home as part of our usual night-time fire safety routine. I thought I was doing all I could to protect my family and home from fire."
When the couple discovered their kitchen ablaze, they closed the door to contain it, ran outside and dialled 999 for help.
Minutes later, fire crews from Carrickfergus and Glengormley arrived at the detached property and dealt with the fire, which, it later emerged, had started in their dishwasher.
The kitchen was destroyed and smoke caused damage throughout the house. The couple were shocked, but not injured.
"My first thought was 'Get out, stay out and get the fire service out'," Mr Davison explained.
"I could not believe my house was on fire. I never thought it would happen to me.
"I'm just so thankful that our smoke alarm was working as it alerted us to the fire around 6.20am, giving us time to escape and raise the alarm. Our night-time fire safety routine helped contain the fire within the kitchen, but it didn't go far enough.
"I dread to think what could have happened - we may not have had the chance to escape as it was early morning.
"My advice is, never use your dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer or indeed any electrical appliance overnight, and never leave them running when you leave the house.
"Your time-saving endeavour may end up costing you your home, or worse, your life.
"The firefighters from Carrickfergus and Glengormley fire stations responded quickly and did a superb job in dealing with the fire and preventing it from spreading to other parts of our home."
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley warned people to be aware of the risks.
"Thankfully Lindsay and Joan were able to escape relatively unscathed but, as their experience has shown, we should not under-estimate the risk of running electrical appliances overnight," he explained.
"Electrical fires,caused by faulty wiring and home appliances are the second biggest cause of accidental house fires in the last three years."
Mr Walmsley also stressed the importance of a working smoke alarm: "In the last three years, in 15% of house fires we attended there was no smoke alarm or it was not working," he said.
"This Fire Safety Week we are reminding everyone about basic fire safety advice and the importance of a working smoke alarm."