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Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service Winter Home Safety

14th December 2012

During a prolonged cold spell there may be an increased risk from fire due to the use of heaters, open fire and wood burning stoves which havenít been used recently or are not properly maintained.

It is a busy time for the Fire Service with 5000 fires caused by faulty electric blankets and around 12000 chimney fires each year in the UK. The following simple steps below will ensure you stay safe and warm this winter.

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 and that the fire is under control before you go to bed. Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.

Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed. Try to secure heaters against the wall to stop them falling over. Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well ventilated areas as they consume oxygen so you could suffocate if a room is not properly aired.

Ensure that wood burning stoves are in good order with all doors and guards closing correctly. When fitting a new stove it is imperative that a qualified installer carries out the work. Make sure that chimneys are regularly swept to avoid the build-up of carbon deposits within that can easily ignite and create problems in the future.

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. Ensure they meet the current standards and have them tested every 3 years. Do not fold the blanket but store it flat or rolled up.

If using candles put them out completely before leaving the room or going to bed. Make sure they are in a proper holder and away from anything that may catch fire (like curtains). If you have any gas appliances make sure these are switched off when not in use.

Remember to test your smoke alarm and change it when necessary. Working smoke alarms save lives.

Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service offer free home fire safety visits for all residents in the region.

During a check, a member of the Service will visit your home providing fire safety advice to help you to formulate a fire escape plan, and if necessary, fit new smoke alarms.

To request a visit or register, visit or call free on 08000 12 13 12

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