It’s important that everyone stays warm this winter – there are lots of ways to do that, but many of them also increase the risk of fire starting in the home.
Please do take extra care when using any of these, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re not sure about something. You can call us FREE on 0800 038 2323, just leave a message and we will call you back.
You can also take a look at the Warm Spaces website, which is mapping public-accessible places where people can go to be warm, rather than using heating at home.
- Portable heaters are great but they must be placed at least one metre (3ft) away from curtains, furniture or any clothes dryer.
- Always unplug portable heaters before going to bed or leaving the property.
- Only use gas and paraffin heaters in well ventilated areas.
- Make sure that any heater isn’t blocking an escape route.
- Plug electric heaters into wall sockets, not extension leads.
- Make sure you are using the right heater in the right place. Standard gas or electric portable heaters must not be used in shower rooms or bathrooms. Portable gas heaters should only be used in well-ventilated rooms and never in bedrooms.
- Not having your gas fire properly maintained may save some money, but it could lead to a life-threatening problem. This is especially important if it’s not been used for years. Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Vents should never be blocked or obstructed.
- If you can smell gas, get out of the property and call 999. Don’t turn any electrical switches on or off if this happens.
- Contact your energy supplier to see if you qualify for their Priority Services Register. If you meet their criteria, they may well offer a free annual gas check.
Log burners and open fires
- If you haven’t lit a fire in your fireplace for years, it’s essential that you get the chimney swept first. Having an open fire could save you money in the long-term, but the short-term cost of making sure it’s safe is essential.
- Green (unseasoned) wood, or wood covered in paint or varnish, should not be burned. Green wood smoulders with long burning embers and produces a lot of creosote and not much heat. Build-ups of creosote in a chimney or flue can become highly flammable and dangerous. Burning painted, coated or treated wood can release harmful gases.
- 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, and keep the guard in place – just in case.
- Make sure you keep matches and lighters away from where they can be picked up by children.
- See also www.dwfire.org.uk/chimney-safety
- If you’ve got that old electric blanket out from under the bed or the loft, make sure you look at it closely for signs of wear and tear – for example, worn or frayed fabric, scorch marks, wires poking through the material, or any damage to the flex. If you find an issue, it’s not safe and could start a fire.
- If you’re buying one new, make sure it meets the current UK and European safety standards – for example, BEAB approved.
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before use, and 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.
- Wheat bags can provide warmth, relief and comfort when used properly but, as with any product involving heat, there is a danger of fire and a risk of injury if care is not taken.
- If you want to use wheat bags, buy from a shop rather than making your own, and make sure there are clear instructions.
- Make sure that the wheat bag is not heated for too long, or at too high a temperature, and never leave unattended during the heating process.
- Don’t use wheat bags as bed warmers – they can continue to heat up and can set bedding alight.
- Don’t add oils to wheat bags as, over time, you will saturate the cover cloth and create an added fire risk.
- Further advice at www.dwfire.org.uk/wheat-bags
Hot water bottles
- Before you use that old hot water bottle that’s been at the back of the cupboard for years, check it closely for signs of wear and tear – has the rubber perished, and does the cap still close tightly? Check the manufacture date (as shown), if it’s more than a couple of years old, it should be replaced.
- Be careful not to overfill the hot water bottle and make sure all air is out of it before tightening the cap.
- Always use a hot water bottle cover to prevent being scalded or burned.
- If you do accidentally burn yourself, follow the cool, call, cover advice
- Whether liquid or gel, bioethanol fuel is highly flammable and there have been incidents when people have been burned as a result of accidents when using these appliances. Most often it has been when re-fuelling.
- Beware of cheap sub-standard products, and follow the manufacturer’s safety advice.
- Refuel only when the fire has been extinguished and is cold, and use approved small containers to refuel.
- Light with a manual or electric taper. Don’t use a lighter, match or lit rolled-up paper.
- Make sure the fire is out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Further advice at www.dwfire.org.uk/bioethanol-fires