Stay warm - and safe -this winter

Joseph Bulmer

AS the cold weather continues to bite, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has issued a timely warning on how to stay warm and safe this winter.

It’s only natural that we spend more time indoors and endeavour to stay as warm as possible. There’s nothing like a cosy open fire or the added warmth of an electric blanket, but these and other winter ‘must-haves’ such as candles can bring an increased risk of fire into the home.

The firefighters remind you to make sure your winter essentials are fire-safe and remember to test your smoke alarm every week. Working smoke alarms save lives.

The Government’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Sir Ken Knight said: “Additional measures to keep warm, such as heaters, are a common sight at this time of year, but despite the winter comfort they can bring it’s important to remember the risks. By following some simple rules you can ensure you stay safe and warm and if you are in any doubt over any fire safety issues, your local Fire and Rescue Service are on hand to help and offer advice. We all want to be warm in winter, but we must avoid tragedy.”

The Fire Kills Campaign has released the following advice to help you reduce your fire risk this winter:

Fires and Heaters: Open fires can provide a relaxing and atmospheric way to keep warm, whereas portable heaters can be handily moved around but it’s important to use them safely:

• Always use a fire guard to protect an open fire against flying sparks and hot embers and make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go out or go to bed.

• Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always unplug electric heaters when you go out and go to bed.

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:

• 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, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.

Candles: Candles may also be used over the festive season as with open fires, a naked flame brings risks if they are not treated carefully. Make sure that candles are secured in a proper holder, and away from materials that may catch fire like curtains. It is also very important that candles are put out completely when you leave the room or go to bed.