Fire warning for portable heaters

Shopper Julie Skerratt, from Admaston, with community fire safety officer Sam Hamer at the Asda store in Donnington, Telford, this week

A campaign to alert householders about the potential fire hazard from portable heaters wrongly used in the home has been launched in Telford by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Community fire safety officers were at the Asda supermarket in Donnington on Monday this week to talk to shoppers about the dangers.

There have been up to 50 possible incidents involving portable heating and other electric equipment in county homes over the past three years with around 1,200 reported nationwide each year.

Incidents in the county have increased since 2009 with a record high of 20 reported during the freezing conditions in 2010 and 2011. This compares with just seven incident reports so far this Winter.

Community fire safety officers are determined to ensure that the figure does not rise over the remainder of the Winter months.

For Telford latest figures show that the majority of incidents happened on housing estates. There have been 14 incidents over the past three years.

Fires were caused by negligent use of equipment or supply, faulty heating devices, overheating, and combustibles being placed too near a heat source.

“Fire in the home is a devastating experience for anyone and can cause death or serious injury,” said Sam Hamer, community fire safety officer with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“We are launching our campaign at the supermarket next week to talk to people about how they can avoid such fires in their homes. There are many steps you can take to prevent a fire from happening in the first place including ensuring you have a smoke alarm which works.”

The number of fires caused by wrongly used portable heaters is on the increase as more people use them as a convenient way to heat their homes. With heating bills on the rise, many people use them as an alternative to central heating to cut down on costs.

“More people are using portable heaters to heat single rooms as fuel cost rise and they just need to take extra precautions to ensure they are safe,” said Sam.

“January is normally the coldest month of the year so we do expect more people to use portable heaters.”

As part of the safety campaign, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued the following guidelines:

  • Unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed
  • A permanent safety guard should be fitted
  • Store and change cylinders for portable gas heaters 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 near heaters
  • Children or pets should not be left unattended if portable heaters are switched on
  • Heaters should not be placed near furniture, curtains or bedding
  • Clothes can easily ignite if you stand or sit too close to heaters
  • Do not place 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 260 260.

14th January, 2013