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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fire service's cold weather safety advice

With temperatures dropping across the country, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has issued a timely warning to residents to stay warm but safe as the colder weather takes hold.

Gary Brandrick, Senior Fire Safety Manager said: "As it gets colder it's inevitable that we all spend more time indoors.

"You might take additional measures to keep warm such as using heaters, open fires and wood burning stoves but these can bring an increased risk of fire into the home.

"By following some simple rules you can ensure you stay safe and warm.

"We are here to help and offer advice. If you are in any doubt over any fire safety issues, please do get in touch. We all want to be warm in winter, but we must avoid putting ourselves at increased risk."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service provides the following advice to help you reduce your fire risk this winter:

- Always use a fire guard to protect an open fire against flying sparks and hot embers and make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go out or go to bed.

- Keep portable heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. Always unplug electric heaters when you go out and go to bed.

- 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.

Electric blankets can help you keep warm during the cold nights, but fires can be devastating with 440 injuries resulting from every 1000 fires started by an electric blanket. Therefore, there are fire safety issues to consider:

- 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.

- Do not leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead.

A number of people are using wheat bags to keep warm at the moment and we are giving the following advice on this.

- Do buy wheat bags with clear heating instructions and manufactures' contact details.

- Only use as a heat pack for direct application to the body.

- Watch for overuse - a smell of burning or charring.

- Always leave them to cool in a safe area on a non-combustible surface like a kitchen sink.

- Never use wheat bags as bed warmers.

- Do not overheat the bags. (The recommended maximum is three minutes for most manufacturers.)

- Do not reheat the bag until it has completely cooled (which may be two hours).

- Do not leave the microwave unattended when heating.

- Do not store the bag until it is cold.

- Do not use the bag if you see any evidence of problems.

Gary added: "Make it one of your New Year resolutions to test your smoke alarm weekly and change the battery according to the manufacturer's instructions. Working smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire and can mean the difference between life and death."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service offers free home fire safety checks for all residents in the region.

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

To register, or for more information on fire safety in the home, please visit www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk , or call our 24 hour hotline free on 0800 169 1234.

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