Hundreds of young people across Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley are excitedly heading off for new lives at university this month.
But a new survey has shown that students in the North West are sleep walking into a potential disaster as they doze off with food on the hob or in the oven.
New research by Electrical Safety First reveals that around one in five students surveyed in the North West admit to falling asleep with food cooking, risking a potentially deadly electrical fire as many university newcomers are set to live away from home for the first time.
Latest figures unearth that 911 accidental electrical fires took place in student halls of residence in England alone between 2012 and 2017, the equivalent of five fires every week during a typical academic term.
The charity, which is dedicated to reducing and preventing damage, injuries and death caused by electricity, found that of the 911 electrical fires in total, 194 of these took place in the North West, making the area responsible for a fifth of these fires in the last five years.
The charity found that around 92% of these fires took place in the kitchen and a further 64% of these occurred at night.
Further research reveals that, worryingly, the majority of students are getting behind the stove under the influence of alcohol with a startling figure of over half (59%) of North West students surveyed admitting to cooking while drunk or after drinking.
With Freshers’ Week set to take the country by storm, kicking off the academic year, Electrical Safety First is urging students in the North West not to ‘Drink and Fry’ to avoid the possibility of putting themselves and their fellow students at risk.
The charity also looked into the reckless actions of students while at university gauging the book smart, kitchen careless behaviour they are guilty of with around one in four of North West students surveyed admitting to putting a knife or fork into a toaster carrying with it a serious risk of electric shock and injury.
Around 25 % admitted to misusing the microwave by putting something inside it that shouldn’t be, either for fun or by mistake whilst over three quarters (75%) admit to having been distracted whilst cooking food, subsequently leaving it unattended.
With so many people living under one roof the danger careless behaviour poses is severe.
Electrical Safety First also asked students at in the North West how they feel about the behaviour of those living around them within their student accommodation revealing a staggering 67% of those surveyed have been fearful that others around them could start an electrical fire through their recklessness.
Emma Drackford, Director of Communications for Electrical Safety First, said: “With Freshers’ Week taking place all over the country we know how excited students starting the new academic year will be to celebrate.
"Yet those set to live independently for the first time are urged to take care in the kitchen when handling electrical appliances. With so many students admitting to taking to the stove under the influence of alcohol and a significant number falling asleep with food cooking we are warning students not to drink and fry.
"Those living in halls of residence are no doubt set to have a great time on their journey through university however with numerous people living collectively under one roof careless mistakes put every person in the building at risk.
"If in doubt this Fresher’s Week, order in.”
Tips from the body to keep safe include:
* Don’t cook when drunk – although it may seem like a great idea to cook a fry up after a night of possible heavy drinking, don’t. The risk of falling asleep or forgetting about food on the hob is much more likely when you’re senses are dulled by alcohol.
* Ensure foil is removed from packaging before you place an item into the microwave.
* Do not leave tea towels or clothing near the hob when in use. In doing so you risk starting a fire that could spread rapidly.
* The top of a microwave might seem like a convenient place to throw things when you come back from a long day at university but when in use this area will conduct heat. This surface should be kept clear at all times.
* Never remove the batteries from your smoke detector. This life saving device will likely be the first warning you get should you need to evacuate the building during a fire.
* Their life, your hands – remember that you’ll be living with many other people in your building meaning reckless behaviour that could potentially start a fire not only puts you in danger but everyone else around you.
Students can get advice on staying safe in their accommodation via the website at: www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/students