Firefighters advise public how to stay warm and safe

By Barrie Hudson - 30 November 2021

Community

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding people about the best ways to stay safe and warm this winter.

Safe & Well Manager Vikki Thomas said: “The recent cold snap will have led people to get heaters and electric blankets out of storage, and those with open fires or woodburners will have had those fired up as well. 

"Using additional heating is understandable, especially for anyone still working at home, but this can increase the risk of fire. By following some simple advice, you can stay safe and warm.

“We are here to help and offer advice. If you are in doubt over any fire safety issues, please do get in touch, and always remember to test your smoke detector every week, as working smoke detectors save lives. We’d also recommend carbon monoxide alarms to warn against the risk of CO poisoning – it could be the best thing you buy this year.”

There has already been at least one fire this month involving an electric blanket, so the service has this advice for anyone intending to warm their bed in this way:

- Folding up electric blankets damages the internal wiring, so store them flat or rolled up instead

- Check the wiring and plug on your blanket before using it, to make sure there is no fraying or damage

- Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use

- Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off

The service says open fires can provide a relaxing and atmospheric way to keep warm, whereas portable heaters are handy to move around and may be considered a cheaper option with rising gas prices, but that safe use is vital:

- Always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers from an open fire

- Use a metal container to store any ashes

- Make sure ashes are not left near any potentially flammable objects

- Ensure ashes are completely out before disposing

- Make sure embers are under control and properly extinguished before you go out or go to bed

- Get your chimney swept regularly

- Keep heaters at least one metre - 3ft - away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes

- Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed

- Gas fires should be serviced every year by a competent engineer

Anyone concerned that they may not have sufficient smoke or carbon monoxide detection in their home can ask Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for a free Safe & Well check.

More information can be obtained at 0800 038 2323 or visit www.dwfire.org.uk/safe-and-well-visits

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