MFS urges safety checks on heaters as cold weather arrives

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) has urged people with heating appliances to check their safety before using them, to reduce fire risk.

Victor Harbor MFS usually attends about six home heating equipment-related house fires in Victor Harbor and surrounds during the colder months each year.

With the cold weather arriving, more people are using equipment like combustion heaters, fire places and electric blankets, and all of these could pose a risk if they are damaged or worn out.

MFS community engagement officer Phil Evans said heating equipment must be carefully assessed and replaced or repaired by a qualified tradesperson immediately.

Items like gas and oil heaters, fire places, chimneys and flues should be serviced and cleaned regularly.

"People are pulling out electric blankets and heaters they have not used since last spring so these items need to be thoroughly checked before use," Mr Evans said.

There are ways to safely use heating equipment which can prevent loss of life and property.

"Keep any combustible items such as clothes, bedding, curtains or furniture well clear of heaters and fires - with ideally at least two metres clearance," Mr Evans said.

"Avoid leaving heaters running for extended periods of time as radiant heat may scorch flammable items."

MFS electric blanket and throw rugs safety tips

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions while using electric blankets or throw rugs.
  • Always check and test electric blankets or rug at the start of winter. Look for scorch marks, kinks, creases, lumpiness or exposed wires in electric blankets. Check for cracking, discolouration, heat marks on the switch and the cord that connects the controller to the blanket.
  • Electric blankets have started fires when left unattended, or left on during the day. Remember to turn off the electric blanket when getting into bed.
  • Never use electric blankets with people who are sensitive to heat, including infants and young children. Invalids and people who are frail or elderly could dehydrate, especially if they can't turn the blanket off when in difficulty.

MFS heater fire safety tips

  • Heating equipment should be installed and maintained by a qualified tradesperson.
  • Clothes airers placed around or near heaters are a high fire risk. If clothing needs to be dried inside it is far safer to locate the clothes airer in a room with no heater but a good air flow.
  • Children and pets must always be supervised when heaters and fires are in use.
  • Choose a portable heater that has an automatic safety switch that turns the heater off if it is tipped over.

For more information, view the MFS Home Fire and Life Safety Fact Sheets on Home Heating and Electric Blankets at www.mfs.sa.gov.au

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