Keeping Fire Safe, while Keeping Warm this Winter

With Winter on its way, now is a good time to discuss the hazards you may find in the home, trying to keep warm. More than 40% of deaths from fires happen during Winter.


Winter products such as hot water bottles, wheat filled heat bags, electric blankets, heaters and fire places can cause injuries such as burns.  Faulty electrical items, or forgetting items on could potentially cause a fire.

Heaters

Heaters should be checked for safety before being used.  These have likely been stored for at least 6 months and may have dust or damage that can cause failures. Electric heaters should be checked for rust.  The power cord should be checked for damage including breaks, wire exposure and fraying. If you have a gas heater, it should be serviced regularly by a licenced gas fitter and you should ensure proper ventilation.  Any strange smells or noises in any type of heater, should be investigated immediately.  Portable heaters should also be placed in areas where people and pets cannot knock them over.

Electric Blankets

400,000 potentially faulty electric blankets were recalled in 20122. Check the Recalls Australia website www.recalls.gov.au to make sure yours isn’t one of them.  Faulty blankets can overheat, cause electric shocks or spark and cause a fire.  When taking it out for the first time, lay the blanked on the bed and check for unusual hot spots as it heats up.  Don’t leave the blanket running all night, and if you do, make sure it is turned off when you wake.

Hot Water Bottles and Wheat Filled Heat Bags

Hot water bottles can cause burns if placed directly on the skin so use a hot water bottle cover, or wrap it in a towel.  They should be regularly checked for leaks to ensure they do not burst and should not be filled with boiling water; rather hot water from the tap.  Wheat filled heat bags can also cause burns if placed directly on the skin. Additional risks are also posed by wheat bags including spontaneous combustion after microwaving and inhalation of the products of combustion.  Wheat bags have been subject to increased scrutiny after a deadly fire in 2011.  Replace them regularly, and dispose of immediately if they smell strange or produce smoke. Additionally, do not overheat them in microwaves.


Fireplaces

If you have a fireplace, ensure the chimney is cleaned regularly and is not blocked.  Put a screen in front of the fire when it is being used to prevent accidental burns especially with children around.  Make sure the fuel you are using is safe; it is not chemically treated or painted, not overly wet (this may cause an explosion) and is appropriate to burn.

Whilst the most common injuries with keeping warm are burns, other, more deadly risks are posed by these products.  Be safe this Winter.

For more information contact us today on 1300 347 372.

References

1 Fire and Rescue NSW http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/

2 ACCC www.accc.gov.au

3 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-30/coroner-recommends-public-warning-over-wheat-bag-fire-risk/4661084