Residents urged to stay fire safe throughout winter

13:35 23 November 2012

WINTER is usually a busy time for fire services as it faces an increase in calls for domestic fires caused by candles, heaters, fireplaces and electric blankets.

WINTER is usually a busy time for fire services as it faces an increase in calls for domestic fires caused by candles, heaters, fireplaces and electric blankets.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has said there is a few simple precautions that will make sure you and your family are perfectly safe.

Divisional officer Neil Fenwick, community safety, said: “At this time of year people light their fires for the first time in months, electric blankets are taken out of storage and portable heaters come out for the first time since last year and all of these can be a serious hazard.

“But by following a few simple safety tips you can make sure that your homes is as safe as it can be throughout the winter.”

Candles should never be left unattended and should always be put out before you go to sleep. All candles should be stood straight up in a proper holder, or in the case of scented candles which turn to liquid a bowl. No candle should ever be stood on a flammable surface, they should always be burned on a heat proof surface and always extinguished before they burn into the holder.

It is also important to remember that all candles should be kept away from windows, curtains, children and pets and that night lights can melt plastic surfaces such as the tops of TV or the side of a bath tub.

Heaters should always be positioned with their backs against the wall and if possible secure them to the wall to prevent them from falling over. Switch heaters off if you’re not in the room and also when you go to bed.

Portable gas heaters should have the cylinders stored and changed outside or in a well ventilated atmosphere.

Both gas and paraffin heaters should only be used in a well ventilated area. They consume oxygen from the atmosphere and can cause death by asphyxiation (suffocation), if not adequately ventilated. Don’t place heaters near curtains or furnishings and never use them for drying clothes.

All electric blankets should be checked and the best rule of thumb is that if your blanket is more that 10 years-old or shows any sign of wear and tear then they should be replaced immediately.

When anyone buys a new electric blanket make sure it has ‘overheat protection’, which will cut off the electricity if it becomes too hot. All electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them. Have your blanket checked by an expert once every three years or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Anyone with an open fire should make sure that they use a fire guard and that they have had their chimney cleaned for the start of winter and make sure that all fires are fully extinguished before you go to bed.

The most important piece of safety advice for any home is to install and regularly test at least one smoke on every level of the home.

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