Did you know around 65 fires a year are caused by faulty electric blankets, two fires a day are caused by heaters and, in England on average, 7,700 chimney fires occur every year.
Chimney fires usually occur when soot and creosote deposited in the flue set alight due to high temperatures or flames from a very hot fire. Regular chimney sweeping will remove these deposits and also clear any other blockages such as bird nests, cobwebs and loose brickwork. Chimneys may need sweeping twice a year or more depending on the type of fuel used.
Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers. Do not sit too close to a fire – remember Stop, Drop and Roll if your clothes catch fire. Make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go to bed. Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm. If a fault develops in your chimney or flue, your alarm will warn you of the presence of this potentially fatal gas. Never interrupt the air supply by blocking air vents or air bricks. Visit the Carbon Monoxide webpage for more detailed information.
This detailed Heat Your Home Safely Guide, produced by the National Association of Chimney Sweeps, offers advice and guidance on how to heat your home safely using an open fire.
For more information check out the websites and PDF document below:
Using Portable Heaters
Central heating is a much more efficient and safe way of heating a house but if you have to use a portable heater, follow these guidelines:
- Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
- Do not sit too close to the heater – remember Stop, Drop and Roll if your clothes catch fire.
- Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed.
- Try to secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over.
- Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas.
- Heaters consume oxygen so you could suffocate if a room is not properly aired.
- Ensure your gas or paraffin heater is serviced as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Install a Carbon Monoxide detector in any room where you have a fuel burning heater.
- Carbon Monoxide is a potentially fatal gas which is invisible and odourless.
Using Electric Blankets
Electric blankets can help you keep warm during the cold nights, but fires can be devastating with 440 injuries resulting from every 1000 fires started by an electric blanket. Therefore, there are fire safety issues to consider:
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never use hot water bottles 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
- Store electric blankets flat or rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.
- Do not buy second-hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear. It is recommended you get your blanket serviced every 3 years. Replace your blanket when it is more than 10 years old.
If the electricity fails keep a battery operated light or torch handy. Modern LED torches and lanterns last much longer and are brighter and safer than candles.
Avoid naked flames: If you do use candles, always take special care. Put them out completely before leaving the room or going to bed. Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains.
Keep a charged mobile phone handy so you can still make an emergency call if there is a power cut.
For more information on staying warm at winter, see the leaflet below: