Fire Warning for Portable Heaters

People using portable heaters for cheaper winter heating are being urged by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to be aware of the dangers.

Many may be “playing with fire,” say Electrical Safety First after their survey revealed more people were switching to portable heaters to offset costly heating bills.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable, warned Sam Hamer, of the brigade’s Community Fire Safety team which works to raise awareness about fire prevention across the county.

Pensioners carry heaters around the house while other reported incidents in Shropshire include them being precariously balanced on newspapers and phone books creating a fire hazard.

Three years ago a Telford family of five escaped a fire which ripped through their home within minutes of a settee catching fire after a portable halogen heater had been placed nearby.

In the recent survey, 38 per cent of people admitted they would leave a heater switched on and unattended and 21 per cent would leave one switched on overnight. Portable heaters have caused 73 deaths, 1,000 injuries and more than 3,800 fires in the UK since 2009/10.

Those aged 80 and over made up nearly 40 per cent of portable heater fatalities last year even though 33 per cent of people would use a portable heater to keep an elderly relative warm, the latest research revealed.

A total of 78 per cent were worried about the rising costs of energy bills and more than half would use portable heaters as an alternative to keep warm this winter.

Safety tips have been issued by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of their annual safety campaign.

  • Unplug electric heaters when you go out or to bed
  • A permanent safety guard must be fitted
  • Store and change portable gas heater cylinders outside or in a well ventilated area
  • Use gas and paraffin heaters in a well ventilated area
  • Follow the manufacturers’ operating and maintenance instructions
  • Don’t use flammable materials, aerosols or cleaning fluids nearby
  • Children or pets should not be left unattended with a portable heater.
  • Don’t place them near furniture, curtains or bedding
  • Clothes can easily ignite if you stand or sit too close to heaters
  • Don’t put them on uneven surfaces or where they can be easily knocked over
  • Never move a heater while it’s alight or switched on
  • Don’t dry clothes on them.

For more advice, or to arrange a home fire safety visit call the community fire safety team on 01743 260260 or visit www.shropshirefire.gov.uk

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