Stay warm…and safe this winter
It’s important to stay warm over winter so you don’t succumb to all the nasty winter bugs that are around at this time of year. But it’s also important to stay safe. We take a look at some tips from Energy Safety, the government agency responsible for electrical and gas safety issues, about how to stay both safe and warm this winter.
Heating your home - LPG heaters
If you’ve got an LPG or cabinet heater, here are some tips for their safe operation:
- Follow the 'Heater Metre Rule' - always keep yourself, your children, and any materials that can burn, such as curtains, clothes and furniture, at least one metre from any heat source.
- When operating the controls, don’t stand directly in front of the heater.
- Don’t hang clothes on a heater to dry – this is a common cause of fires.
- Use a fire guard if there are vulnerable people around, such as children or the infirm.
- Make sure your heater is well ventilated - always keep a window open when these heaters are in use. If there’s not enough ventilation a build up of fumes can occur.
- Don’t use your heater in small spaces, or in the bedroom or bathroom.
To test that your heater is not leaking, spread soapy water on the cylinder connections and turn on the cylinder valve. If bubbles appear, LPG is leaking. Close the valve and contact an LPG service agent.
Heating your bed
Check your electric blanket each year – an electric blanket is expected to last around three to five years of regular use. Keep the instructions and follow any safety precautions. Check your blanket each time you change your sheets for damage and wear; looking at the control switch, cord, and plug, and look for any kinks, worn wires, scorch marks, or breaks in the heating element. Also:
- Keep the blanket flat on your bed - creasing can damage the heating elements.
- Make sure the cord is extended, not coiled, and in a clear area where it won’t get damaged.
- Only keep your electric blanket on continuously while you sleep if the instructions say it can be used this way, and keep the controls at the lowest setting. Remember to turn it off in the morning!
- Avoid putting clothes or other things (apart from bed linen) or allowing pets on the bed while the electric blanket is on – this could cause overheating.
- Don’t use a hot water bottle in bed when you are using your electric blanket.
When spring arrives and it’s time to take the blanket off, make sure you know how to store it properly by following the instructions. If you don’t have the instructions, store the blanket loosely rolled (in corrugated cardboard, if possible) or leave it flat in a dry area where no objects will be placed on it.
If you heat your bed with a hot water bottle, then it should meet the safety standard BS 1970:2001 or BS 1970:2006. Check that the screw top fits snugly and before use it, check for signs of wear such as splits or aging in the rubber and loose thread in the tops. Test it with cold water first to make sure there are no leaks. Also:
- Don’t use boiling water – over time this reduces the strength of the rubber, and also creates a risk of burns. For extra safety cover the hot water bottle with a towel or hottie cover.
- Don’t overfill your bottle - they could burst. After filling your bottle, shake it upside down and away from you, to check that the screw top fits snugly.
- For kids and the elderly, use the bottle to warm the bed, and then remove it before they get into bed. A wheat bag is not a good option for heating a bed.
For more information on staying safe this winter, visit the Energy Safety website [external website].