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Winter fire safety

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Whether you’re getting cosy by the fire or lighting some fireworks, winter can be a hazardous time for fire risks. For example, did you know that around 43 fires are caused by faulty electric blanket wiring a year? Or that three fires a day are caused by heaters? Like all seasons, taking the proper precautions to ensure your safety and those around you is essential. 

To help you identify these risks and protect yourself, we’ve created this handy guide to winter fire safety.  

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Heating your home

Heating your home is one of the biggest culprits for fires during the colder months. As the weather takes a dip, it’s easy to overlook potential hazards for the convenience of warmth. However, this is a dangerous opinion that could harm you and others. To combat this, here are some tips to ensure your safety when using these common winter warmers.  

Open Fires

With the rising cost of energy bills, more and more of us are turning to our fires to heat our homes, but there are some key safety precautions you should keep in mind when using your open fire. These include:

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.

Fit a carbon monoxide alarm in all rooms with fuel-burning appliances. 

Open Fire

Portable Heaters

Whether oil or electric, portable heaters can be an excellent solution for those spaces that can’t hold a radiator or need extra help to stay toasty. However, they can also pose a threat if not used correctly. 
When using a portable heater, make sure that:  

Electric heaters are unplugged when you go out or go to bed

  • Your heater is secured against a wall to prevent it from falling over
  • It is positioned away from curtains, furniture, or any other flammable material
  • It is never used to dry clothes
  • You only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas. These heaters consume oxygen, so you could suffocate if a room is not properly aired. 

Electric Blankets

Electric blankets have regained popularity in recent years, and with many of us struggling with energy bills, it’s easy to understand why. However, these seemingly innocent blankets can cause a major fire hazard if misused.

To avoid a fire risk, you should always:

  • Unplug your blanket before you get into bed, unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use
  • Store your electric blanket flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damage to the internal wiring
  • Test your electric blanket every 3 years to avoid issues. Age UK or your local fire and rescue service may be able to do this for you free of charge
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Electric Blanket

Alternative Lighting

Alternative Lighting

A power cut can be tricky to predict, so it’s no wonder many of us keep alternative lighting around the house just in case. However, these light sources can be a dangerous fire hazard if misused. Here are some tips to keep you and your home safe when using alternative lighting:  

  • If you have to use candles or matches, always take special care. Put them out completely before leaving the room or going to bed
  • Ensure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from flammable materials like curtains. 

Bonfire night safety

Bonfire night poses one of the most significant fire risks, for obvious reasons. The combination of bonfires, fireworks, and sparklers can create an unsafe environment if not treated with the care and respect needed. To help you navigate these elements safely, we’ve compiled this list of safety precautions. 

Firework Safety Tips

Watching fireworks is a popular and fun pastime, especially during winter. However, these explosives are potentially dangerous and need careful handling and storage. To ensure your safety, you should:

  • Only buy fireworks that are CE marked
  • Not drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Follow the instructions on each firework
  • Light them at arms length using a taper
  • Stand well back 
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit. Even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Always supervise children around fireworks
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • Keep pets indoors
  • Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night, and never after 11 pm. 
Firework Safety

Sparkler Safety Tips

Sparklers are often viewed as harmless for the whole family. Still, they do burn at fierce temperatures and can easily cause injuries. It’s vital to follow these steps when handling sparklers:  

  • Light sparklers one at a time
  • Supervise children with sparklers and never give them to children under five
  • Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
  • Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit
  • Don’t wave sparklers about close to other people
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
  • When you finish the sparkler, put it in a bucket of cold water. 

Reporting anti-social behaviours regarding fireworks

Antisocial Behavious

If you’re a Places for People Customer and you notice an incident of anti-social behaviour involving fireworks, there are a few steps you can take. If the incident breaks the law, you should always call the police first. You can then report the incident to us via your online account or by calling us on 01772 667002 in England and Wales or 0131 657 0600 in Scotland. 
If the incident continues to happen, keep a log of the events. This can help us and the police identify patterns in the offence to find a solution.