Keeping warm in the winter means using portable heaters, electric blankets or wheatbags – but all of these carry a fire risk.
- Keep heaters at least one metre (3ft) away from curtains and furniture.
- Never use portable heaters for drying clothes.
- Always unplug portable heaters before going to bed or leaving the property.
- Only use gas and paraffin heaters in well ventilated areas.
- Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained, ensuring that they are swept at least once a year.
- Make sure you always use a fireguard to protect against sparks and hot embers.
- Don’t hang laundry too close to the fire in case of sparks.
- Ensure that the fire is fully out before you go to bed or leave the property.
- A Gas Safe registered engineer should carry out installation and maintenance.
- Ventilation is essential – vents should never be blocked or obstructed.
- Do not turn any electrical switches on or off if you can smell gas.
- If you can smell gas, get out of the property and call 999.
- When buying an electric blanket, go to a reputable retailer and make sure the product meets the current UK and European safety standards – for example, BEAB Approved.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before use.
- Never use a hot water bottle in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off.
- Unplug blankets before you get into bed unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
- When storing an electric blanket, don’t fold it as this may damage the internal wiring. Store flat or rolled up.
- Examine the blanket regularly for signs of wear and tear – for example, worn or frayed fabric, scorch marks, wires poking through the material, any damage to the flex. If you find an issue, get the blanket replaced.
Get your blanket tested by a qualified electrician at least every three years and replace blankets every ten years.
The Fire Kills campaign has produced a leaflet on Fire Safety in the Winter.
There is a wealth of good advice at www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/advice