Crew manager Liam gives us his top tips for a safer winter
The temperatures are starting to drop. I’m well aware that it’s going to be an expensive winter so I’m trying to resist putting the heating on too much. I’m also thinking about how to make my home warmer for less money. Here are my tips for you.
Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detection
I have two smoke alarms in my house – one in the hall and one on the first-floor landing. You need at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home – so if you have more than two floors, you’ll need more smoke alarms. I try to check my alarms at the start of the month and have two great helpers in my young children. One benefit is they never let me forget the first day of the month.
Carbon monoxide alarms are just as important as smoke alarms but can be easily forgotten. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can be produced by anything that burns fuel. So that’s things like your boiler, oven, hob, open fire, gas fire, and wood burner. You can’t see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, but it’s poisonous so it’s really dangerous. That’s why you need a carbon monoxide alarm in every room where you’re burning fuel. Test this alarm at the same time you test your smoke alarm.
How safe are your heaters?
If I’m at home and it’s just me in a room working, I sometimes use a portable oil-filled radiator to keep one room warm. It saves on the cost of heating the whole house. Oil-filled radiators are the safest option for portable heaters as there are no visible heating elements. But whatever type of heater you have now is the time to get it out and give it a check over.
Checking your portable heater
- Give a good clean (maybe hoover the nooks and crannies to get the dust out)
- Give it a visual check – how do the wires look? Is there any damage? If something doesn’t look right, get it checked by a professional or worst case scenario, dispose of it safely and get a new one.
- If it looks ok, plug it in and let it heat up a bit. Does everything seem to be working ok? Does it sound and look like it usually does? Stay with the heater while you do this.
Do you really need to use candles?
The third thing I’m going to mention is candles. I have heard people saying they’re thinking of using them instead of lighting to save money on electricity. As a firefighter, this particularly concerns me. Fires from candles spread and develop really quickly because they start with an open flame. If you have a fire as a result of using candles, you really won’t be saving money. Think of the hassle and expense of having to move out of your home and replace everything that has been ruined by the fire and smoke.
I’d prefer you to get battery-powered candles. You can get some really good ones which last well, and you can just replace the batteries. They’re also great for pumpkins at Halloween and you don’t need to worry about them getting knocked over, or keeping the flame away from other items.
If you really insist on using candles, you must place them in a proper heat-proof candle holder. Once they’re in the holder, keep them well away from anything that could burn, such as curtains, furniture, books, and shelves. And it goes without saying that you should keep them away from children. Lastly, make sure you blow out the flame when you leave the room.
Take the online home fire safety check
Finally – if you haven’t done it already, please go and take our online home fire safety check. It’s really quick and easy and will help you feel safer!