I hope you have had a good year and you are looking forward to the festive period. As always I have some safety tips to help keep you fire safe during winter and Christmas time.
The winter months can be extremely cold and the winter days get darker much earlier than in the summer – these two things can lead to us changing our behaviour to account for the cold and darkness. We use things like electric blankets to keep warm, people with open fires or wood burners will light the fires, candles become far more common; there are many more changes but most have one thing in common…they bring with them new things to consider.
Did you know that every year around 100 fires are caused by faulty electric blankets? And just in England there are around 7600 chimney fires every year.
There are many risks we face in the winter which we do not face in the summer; I have listed a few below and included some safety tips for you too.
· Always use a fireguard to prevent sparks and flying embers from jumping out of the fire place and onto your carpet where they can cause fires.
· Make sure that the embers of any fire are completely out BEFORE you go to bed, don’t leave the fire burning and go to bed.
· Make sure your chimney is regularly swept – before the winter period starts – This needs to be carried out by a professional. Chimney sweeping is not regulated in the UK; however there are a number of registered bodies. Word of mouth and personal recommendation is also usually a good indication of who to use.
· Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture; NEVER use them to dry clothes.
· Always unplug electric heaters or turn off gas heaters before you go to bed.
· Don’t put heaters on an unstable surface; if they fall over they could set fire to the room.
· All gas or paraffin heaters use oxygen, this means that if the room is not well ventilated the heater could use all the oxygen in the room and leave us with nothing to breath.
· Never use hot water bottles and electric blankets in the same bed.
· Check the instructions for your electric blanket; does it need turning off before you get into bed?
· Store them flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damage to the wires.
· Have them tested every 3 years.
· Don’t buy a second hand one.
· Replace them after 10 years.
· Look out for the British Standard kite mark or LPCB markings on a new one.
· Keep a torch by the bed – with batteries in it – If there is a power failure at night a torch is far safer than a candle.
· Only use candles in proper holders.
· Never carry lit candles around.
· Put them out completely before bedtime.
· Don’t place candles on bookcases or on windowsills. Don’t forget – a candle is ON FIRE, this makes them dangerous, if they get the chance they will set fire to anything their heat can reach.
· Fit a smoke alarm in the roof space (loft) and make sure it’s connected to others in the house.
· Use lightening conductors that have been tested and certified.
· Don’t have garden fires.
· Don’t use fireworks on your property.
· Use the correct lighting in your loft space, not simply an exposed light bulb.
“The winter months do bring their own risks, possibly more risks than we have in the summer but that does not mean we are unsafe. By following some very simple rules and being aware of open fires, candles, electric blankets etc. we can have a happy cosy winter”.