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Winter safety - keeping you safe and warm during the winter months


Keeping you warm

Keeping warm this winter may mean you'll use portable heaters, electric blankets or wheat bags, whatever your chosen method, be sure to read our safety tips for more information.

You can also check out our chimney safety information and thatch safety information on these pages. Look for the links on the left hand side.

Candles, joss sticks, oil and incense burners

  • More than 50 fires a day are started by candles.
  • Make sure candles are secured in a fire resistant holder and away from materials that may catch fire -
    like furniture and curtains.
  • Always leave at least 10cm between burning candles/tea lights and never place them under shelves or other
    enclosed spaces.
  • Put candles out when you leave the room and make sure they're put out completely before you go to bed.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.

Tea lights
Tea lights present a high risk. They have a foil outer container; however this is not a suitable holder. This foil container can
get extremely hot and melt surfaces on which it is placed such as the side of a bath. Ensure tea lights are placed in proper holders.

Using portable heaters

  • Keep heaters at least one metre away from curtains and furniture. Never use them for drying clothes.
  • Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed.
  • Try to secure heaters against a wall to stop them from falling over.
  • Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well ventilated areas.

Open fires

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained, ensure they are swept at least once a year.
  • Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against sparks and hot embers.
  • Ensure embers are properly put out before you go to bed.

Sweeping frequencies
Sweeping frequencies below are for guidance only. Frequency will depend on a number of factors including:
type of fuel, appliance used, duration of use, moisture content of wood fuel, type of chimney.


Smokeless coals: at least once a year.
Wood: up to four times a year.
Bituminous coal: twice a year.
Oil: once a year.
Gas: once a year.

Using electric blankets

  • Never use a hot water bottle 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.
  • Don't leave electric blankets folded as this may damage the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead.
  • Get your blanket tested by a qualified electrician every three years.
  • Replace your blanket if it is more than ten years old.
  • Never buy a second-hand electric blanket.

Wheat bags
Wheat bags are heating pads that usually contain buckwheat or wheatgrass, which can be warmed in a microwave.


  • only use as a heat pack for direct application to the body
  • ensure your microwave turntable is working properly
  • watch for signs of overuse such as burning or charring
  • leave bags to cool in a safe area and on a non-combustible surface.


  • use a wheat bag as a bed warmer
  • overheat the bag
  • reheat the bag until it has completely cooled - this can take up to two hours
  • leave the microwave unattended when heating
  • store the bag until it has completely cooled
  • use the bag if you see evidence of damage

To request free Home Safety advice call free on: 0800 05 02 999. For any other fire safety advice, contact the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue helpline on: 01392 872288.

Download our Home Safety booklet by clicking on the image:


All our safety information can be made available in other languages. Please contact 0800 050 2999 to request a copy.

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