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Keeping you and your home safe this winter

Winter is on its way and depending on where you live, you might've already felt the temperature dropping!

With the cooler days and darker nights approaching, we often want to feel warm, cosy and snug in your home, which for many means an increased use of candles, portable heaters, electric blankets and the addition of festive decorations.

These items can sometimes become a fire and safety hazard, so to help keep you and your home safe, we’ve collated some top tips below.

Candle Safety

Many people enjoy the cosy atmosphere of candlelight, when lighting and keeping candles in the home, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Never leave a candle in a room unattended and make sure it’s totally extinguished (even any glowing embers on the wick) before you go to bed
  • Always position it away from anything that could catch alight, such as curtains or flammable decorative items and keep it away from any drafts
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets
  • Make sure candles are fixed to a sturdy base
  • Tea lights should always be in a heat resistant holder as the metal case can get very hot.

Portable heaters

Many of us turn to portable heaters to help keep us warm during the colder months, but they must be properly used and maintained when used in the home.

  • Make sure your heaters are well maintained and in good working order - look them over for damage before use and have them inspected at least once a year
  • But don’t try and maintain heaters yourself! Always go to a qualified tradesman (Gas Safe for gas, NICEIC for electric heaters & HETAS for solid fuels or OFTEC for oil burning heaters)
  • Check your heater hasn’t been recalled by the manufacturer for a known fault. You can find a list of recalled appliances here
  • Where possible, secure your heaters to a wall or get a fixed, wall mounted heater installed
  • Keep heaters well away from clothes, curtains and furniture and never place items over them
  • Always sit at least one meter back from a heater and avoid getting too close
  • If you’re using solid fuel or gas heaters, ensure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in place too.

Electric Blankets

No one likes getting into a cold bed in the winter, but if you use an electric blanket, please remember to keep yourself safe and warm by following these steps:

  • Maintain your electric blanket and keep it in good working order and make sure there is no frayed wiring or other damage to it before use
  • Check your blanket hasn’t been recalled by the manufacturer for a known fault.  You can read more on recalled appliances here
  • Always turn your blanket off when it’s not in use and before you go to sleep
  • Avoid tucking the edges of an electric blanket under your mattress
  • Don’t use a hot water bottle or heat pad at the same time as an electric blanket
  • Don’t wash or dry clean an electric blanket as the chemicals used in the process can damage the wire insulation.

Decorations and lights

There are lots of celebrations to light up the dark nights of autumn and winter, from Halloween to Bonfire night, to Diwali, Christmas and the New Year. However, it’s important to make sure your decorations are fun but don’t become a safety hazard:

  • Always maintain any fairy lights and keep them in good working order by making sure there’s no frayed wiring or other damage to it before use
  • Don’t overload any sockets with lots of plugs and switch off your decorations when they’re not in use
  • Keep paper and flammable decorations or dressing up outfits well away from any naked flames, candles, jack o-lanterns (Halloween pumpkins), oil burners, incense or other sources of heat
  • If you’ve got a real Christmas tree, keep it well-watered – up to a litre a day – to avoid it drying out and becoming a fire risk in the home.