Keep safe when keeping warm
Make sure you are safe when you are keeping warm by following our useful guides to heating sources in the home.
Carbon Monoxide alarm
You should have a carbon monoxide detector fitted in any room where there is a carbon-fuelled appliance (such as boilers, fires (including open fires), heaters and stoves) or a flue.
Whenever there are power cuts, fire and rescue services get called to house fires started by careless use of candles, oil lamps and tea-lights. Please take care in power-cuts.
Even during the day, smoke from a fire quickly makes everything inside dark and it’s hard to see. Imagine that at night, during a power cut. To help you stay safe:
- Take extra care during power cuts
- Keep torches and batteries where you can find them easily in an emergency
- Think about getting wind-up torches – they’re safe, cheap and never run out of power
Fires and stoves that heat water
In cold weather, the pipes that feed water in and out of stoves and ‘back boilers’ in open fires can freeze. This is more likely if you’ve been away for a few days and your fire or stove hasn’t been used. If you light the stove or fire while the pipes are frozen, pressure will build up inside the boiler part and could cause an explosion.
If this happens, the room will be showered with burning fuel and flying shards of metal.
- If it has been cold, run the hot tap before lighting up (this is the test)
- If no water runs out, do not light your stove or fire
- Call a heating engineer and have your pipes defrosted
Gas and paraffin portable heaters
Accidents most frequently occur as a result of gas leaking when people are assembling appliances or changing cylinders or cartridges. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is butane or propane stored as a liquid under pressure. A small leak can produce a large volume of highly flammable gas. The gas is heavier than air so that it collects near the floor or ground and can be ignited at a considerable distance from the source of the leak. If escaping gas is ignited in a room or other space there may be a fire and an explosion.
Portable equipment safety advice
Every year people die and are injured in their homes as a result of fires caused by heating appliances. Many of these fires involve portable heaters. Any type of portable heater can start a fire if it is misused.
Make sure you read and understand the manufacturer's instructions before using one.
- Turn off portable heaters before going to bed
- Always follow the manufacturer's operating and maintenance instructions
- Keep the heater clean and well maintained
- Ventilate the room in which the heater is being used
- Make sure that a permanent safety guard is fitted
- If a heater is to be used in one place for a long time fix it securely to a floor or wall
- Whatever type of heater you use, DO NOT:
- move a heater while it is alight or switched on
- stand or sit too close, your clothing may ignite
- place a heater too close to furniture, bedding or curtains
- air or dry clothes over a heater
- place heaters where they are likely to be knocked over
- leave a portable heater on if young children or animals are left unattended
- use flammable adhesives, cleaning fluids or aerosol sprays near a heater
Portable Gas Heaters
There are now many forms of powerful domestic heaters available which are fuelled by cylinders of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
- Buy a heater that carries the British Standard Institution (BSI) kitemark
- Ensure that the appliance is serviced regularly
- Change the cylinder in open air. If this is not possible, open windows and doors to increase ventilation
- Never change a cylinder on a stairway or other escape route
- Extinguish all sources of ignition, including cigarettes and pilot lights, and turn off other heaters and electrical appliances before changing the cylinder if it has to be done indoors
- Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting the heater. Do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until the heater is securely connected
- Search for any suspected gas leak by brushing soapy water onto the flexible hose and fittings. If a leak is found, take the heater and cylinder into open air and do not use them until the faulty part has been replaced
- Store spare cylinders outside where possible. Never store them in basements, near drains, under the stairs or in a cupboard containing electric meters or equipment. Spare cylinder must be stored upright
- Buy a heater that carries the BSI kitemark. Never buy a second hand paraffin heater as they can be dangerous
- Use only premium grade paraffin and never use other fuels
- Extinguish the heater and allow it to cool before refilling it. Wherever possible, refill the tank outside the building
- Fill the fuel container to just below the maximum level, to allow for expansion when the paraffin warms up
- Never allow paraffin to overflow or drip onto the floor. Clean up any spillage immediately
- Ensure the heater is standing level, preferably on a non combustible base, and is away from draughts before lighting it
- Keep spare fuel outside the home. No more than 23 litres (5 gallon), and preferably only 9 litres (2 gallon) should be kept. Spare fuel should be in purpose made containers and stored away from sources of heat