Fire service issues safety warning over popular heating hacks

Fire service issues safety warning over popular heating hacks

Posted on: December 21st, 2022

With the cost of living crisis at the forefront of the nation's mind this year, Avon Fire and Rescue Service have shared some useful tips to support residents with the ever-rising energy bills. The campaign 'Save Safely' was launched in November 2022 and includes money-saving advice on how to keep yourself warm during the winter months.

Many of us will be thinking of ways to cut the cost of our energy bills this winter by either avoiding heating altogether, or by reducing the amount of usage. Others have swapped out their cookers for air fryers, while some have even ditched the tumble dryer for a heated drying rack.

We are all looking for ways to save as Christmas approaches. That's why the emergency service has released a full list of alternative solutions that will keep residents warm, as well as giving them peace of mind when it comes to their bills.

The campaign includes 'heat the body, not the home', 'set the timer' and 'heat individual rooms.' It also states items in our homes that could be a heating hazard, and ways to use them safely.

Risk Reduction Manager of Avon and Somerset Police, Nikki Rice, said: “We know the rising cost of living will impact everyone this winter, and we want to make sure we offer the right advice to make sure people make choices that not only save money but also keep them safe.

“Going back to basics by layering up with jumpers, socks and blankets is really the safest way to stay safe and a free way to stay warm. We know people will be dusting off old electric blankets, or lighting log burners once again as cheaper alternatives to their central heating – and it’s these that pose the highest risk to local people."

He added: “I’d urge everyone to take on board our advice and share it with friends and loved ones, so we can all get through this winter safely together.”

Here is the useful advice from the save safely campaign:

Heat the body, not the home:

Try setting yourself a challenge to delay when you start regularly using your central heating. Most people have a set time of year when they feel it's acceptable to start reaching for the thermostat, but why not consider delaying that by a month or so and opting to layer up your clothing/blankets instead to help save money? Cutting your central heating temperature by just 1°C will make a big difference to the amount of energy you use without seriously impacting the temperature of your home.

Set the timer:

When you need to use your central heating more regularly, check if your system has a timer function.

The timer can be used to switch your heating on an off so that you use it less. For example, turning your heating on just for the coldest parts of the day, such as a few hours in the evening and in the morning when you’re waking up means you won’t forget to turn it off and it will help to save you money.

Heat individual rooms:

If you’re able to switch individual radiators off in your home, save money by turning off those in spaces that aren’t often used, only keeping radiators switched on in the rooms you use most.

Heating hazards include:

Electric heaters

  • make sure they are in good working order, have ‘feet’ attached to lift the base off the floor, and get them serviced regularly
  • keep them well away from furniture, curtains, clothes, plants or anything else that could catch fire
  • when using electricity and electrical appliances, it’s very important to make sure you don’t overload sockets. Try out the 'Socket overload calculator below to see if you’re using electricity safely
  • find more electrical safety tips on the Electrical Safety First website.

Electric blankets

  • check your electric blanket for wear and tear and if it is worn, replace it before use
  • get it serviced at least once a year
  • make sure it has safety features including automatic switch-off at a certain temperature or after a time limit
  • if a person suffers from incontinence, remove electric blankets from beds and do not use
  • never use a hot water bottle when using an electric blanket - water and electricity don’t mix
  • find more electrical safety tips on the Electrical Safety First website.

Hot water bottles

  • don’t overfill hot water bottles and ensure all air is out of the bottle, screwing the lid on tightly
  • always use a hot water bottle cover to prevent burns
  • never use one at the same time as an electric blanket – water and electricity don’t mix
  • if you do accidentally burn yourself, follow our cool, call, cover advice

Log burners and open fireplaces

  • it’s important to make sure your chimneys, fire places and log burning stoves are swept and cleaned before use
  • always use a spark guard, even if you think the fire has died out. Sparks can still unexpectedly shoot out of even a damped-down fire and set fire to your home.
  • avoid drying clothes in front of an open fire – this is a big fire risk!
  • ensure wood, coal and other fuels are stored at a safe distance from the fire.
  • make sure that there is no clutter on or around the fireplace

Wheat bags

  • avoid overheating wheat bags in the microwave by following the instruction on the packaging exactly
  • before grabbing it out of the microwave after heating, check it’s not too hot first by poking it with your finger
  • if you do accidentally burn yourself, follow our cool, call, cover advice

Camping stoves and barbeques

It’s vital barbecues and camping stoves are only used outdoors and not brought or used indoors - even with windows and doors open there’s will not be enough ventilation to protect you from toxic fumes, and it could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. To learn more please see our sections on Barbecues and Carbon monoxide poisoning in our A-Z of Home Safety

White goods

  • make sure washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers are not used overnight or when no one’s home – if there’s a fire no one will be there to raise the alarm
  • tumble dryer lint filters need to be cleaned weekly and vacuumed monthly, to reduce the risk of fire


  • candles should be fitted in a candle holder, placed on a non-flammable surface
  • don’t leave them unattended when burning, especially with young children or pets around
  • make sure they aren't burning close to curtains, bedding, clothing or plants which might catch fire
  • be sure not to place burning candles on window sills or on the floor
  • extinguish all candles before going to bed
  • burning candles shouldn't be placed anywhere where they might be knocked over or caught in a draught
  • it is best not to move candles when they are alight or while the wax is molten - if you do accidentally burn yourself, follow our cool, call, cover advice


Don’t put off getting your boiler looked at if it needs a service, or if you think there is a problem with it – while it will cost money, your safety is worth every penny.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide can be given off by any appliance which burns a fossil fuel such as gas, coal or oil. It can enter your room if your appliance is faulty, or if the room is not properly ventilated, or the chimney or flue is blocked.

  • to make sure your appliances are safe, have them properly installed and regularly maintained
  • gas appliances must be serviced by engineers who are members of the Gas Safe Register.
  • make sure your home is properly ventilated - never block vents
  • make sure all chimneys and flues are regularly swept and kept clear
  • if you are buying a carbon monoxide detector get it from a reputable outlet, such as a DIY store.

Counterfeit products

  • fake electrical products claiming to be 'real' could be unsafe or faulty, increasing the risk of fire
  • be sure to purchase electrical goods from retailers you know and trust, either from the manufacturer’s website or from a trusted high street name
  • spotting a fake product within online marketplaces can be difficult – if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • if the seller claims the product is ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ double check the source, because most reputable retailers don’t need to describe their products like this

Buying second hand goods

  • see if the product has been recalled by using Electrical Safety First’s online product checker
  • check the product has a three-pin UK plug, which should also include a fuse
  • make sure there’s a certification label on the product and its packaging
  • electrical appliances should have a model serial number on the product - use this to register it. This makes it easy for the manufacturer to contact you if it needs to be recalled due to a fault or safety reason.

Safe storage of petrol

It’s not advisable to store petrol at home, as this increases the risk of a fire. But if you do, be sure to follow safety guidelines.

Source: click here.

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