Playing with fire: Stay safe this winter


People are playing with fire in their efforts to find cheaper heating options this winter, research by Electrical Safety First has revealed, with many unaware of the dangers that the alternatives can pose.

With concerns about rising energy prices forcing people to use portable heaters in order to warm their homes, the Charity is joining forces with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) to warn of the risks associated with these items as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week, which runs from 10 – 16 November 2014

In order to minimise the danger, Electrical Safety First and SFRS have produced the following guidance for heating homes safely:

• Never leave portable heaters unattended

• Never leave them on whilst sleeping

• Ensure that they are positioned well away from anything which could knock them over

• Ensure they are at least a metre away from any combustible materials, such as paper or curtains

• Never buy second hand halogen heaters

• Never power a halogen heater from an extension lead – these can easily be overloaded and cause fires

• Regularly inspect your heater for damage. If it’s damaged, don’t use it

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service director of prevention and protection, said:

“We know that winter can mean more house fires than at any other time of year and  portable heaters are one of the factors which contribute to this.  Fires resulting from portable heaters being placed too close to beds or furniture can have tragic consequences while using them for drying clothes, or forgetting to switch off when you go out or go to bed can also place households in danger.

“Following the advice provided by Electrical Safety First, and making sure your home has working smoke alarms, could save your life.  Over the last five years three-quarters of preventable fire deaths in Scotland were people aged 50 years or over – and almost a third of people injured through fire were aged 60 or over.

“This winter we are appealing for the community to think about older people.  It could be a friend, relative or neighbour.

“Our crews offer a free Home Fire Safety Visit service but we need your help to make sure every older person is offered that support. Firefighters can help householders spot fire hazards and fit smoke alarms free of charge if the home is found to need them.  If you, or someone you know, could be at risk from fire, contact us now.”

On this guidance, and on the dangers posed by portable heaters, Emma Apter at Electrical Safety First said:

“Having a warm home this winter is something everyone deserves, so we welcome portable heaters as a low cost option at a time when energy costs are spiralling.

“However, it is vital that the dangers associated with these items are understood – particularly as our research suggests that people are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk by using them in an unsafe way. By following our short, simple guidance, people can stay safe and stay warm this winter.”

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