Fire service promotes winter home safety

CUMBRIA Fire and Rescue Service is urging residents to stay safe while heating their homes during the cold weather.
The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office issued a Cold Health Alert for the North West this week, and the fire service is promoting its important advice on the safe use of open fires, portable heaters and electric blankets at this time.
Andrew Lowes, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service’s Station Manager for Prevention, said: “As the temperature drops, householders inevitably have a greater reliance on household heating devices to stay warm.
“This comes with risks, however, as around two fires a day are caused by heaters, and 65 fires a year are caused by faulty electric blankets.
“We therefore encourage everyone to follow our advice to keep themselves and their homes warm – and safe – this winter.
“We also reiterate the importance of ensuring your detection devices, including smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, are in full working order.”
Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mike Johnson, said: “We want everyone to be warm this winter in their own homes and many of us use plug-in heaters, open fires and electric blankets to do so.
“However, we do need to take caution with anything that omits heat as we don’t want to cause any avoidable and potentially fatal fires.
“I would urge everyone to listen to the advice of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service to help keep themselves safe this winter.”
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service provides the following advice:

Open fires:

  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers.
  • Make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go to bed.
  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.

Portable heaters:

  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.
  • 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.

Electric blankets:

  • 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.
  • Test electric blankets every three years.
  • Try not to buy second-hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear. Replace your blanket when it is more than 10 years old.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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