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Staying safe in winter

Many winter products can be unsafe if they are old, faulty or used incorrectly.

To have a well winter and avoid injury, follow our safety tips and keep up-to-date on the latest product recalls.

Read our safety suggestions for:

Hot water bottles

Hot water bottles are widely used for warmth or to help ease pain.

They are manufactured from rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and can deteriorate with age.

Each year, 200 people in Australia are treated for serious burns from using hot water bottles.

Safety tips

  • Don’t use boiling water in your hot water bottle. Use hot tap water.
  • Don’t overfill.
  • Avoid direct contact with your skin. Wrap the hot bottle or use a fitted cover before use.
  • Never leave the hot bottle on one area of the body for more than 20 minutes.

Wheat bags

When using a wheat bag, follow the heating instructions and never heat for more than what is written on the label.

Homemade wheat bags can pose a fire and injury risk because the moisture content and volume of these bags is not known, so there are no heating times to guide you.

Age causes the organic fillings inside wheat bags to dry out and become more combustible.

Safety tips

  • Do not heat and place the wheat bag on or in bedding. Blankets trap the product’s heat and may cause it to ignite.
  • Allow the wheat bag to cool completely each time before reheating.
  • If you notice a burning smell, let the bag cool and then dispose of it—it is no longer safe to use.

Children’s clothing

Each year Australian children are admitted to hospital with burns after their clothing has caught fire.

Even if clothing items have a ‘low fire danger’ label, they are still flammable.

Safety tips

  • Be cautious of children’s clothing purchased online, on holiday, or received as gifts from overseas. These may not meet Australian standards.
  • Keep your child away from open flames and heaters.
  • Avoid buying loose fitting sleepwear, dressing gowns and clothing, which could easily catch alight   around heat sources.

Electric blankets

Inspect the electric blanket before use and look for frayed fabric, exposed elements, damaged cords or scorch marks.

If you notice any damage to the electric blanket, throw it away. Damaged or faulty electric blankets can cause an electric shock or fire hazard.

Once winter is over, roll the electric blanket up and store it in a clean and dry place as the manufacturer recommends.

Safety tips

  • Check before use. The cords should not be frayed and the blanket covering the wires should not be worn out.
  • Don’t sleep with your electric blanket on. Warm the bed and then turn it off.
  • Never place heavy items on your bed when the electric blanket is turned on.
  • Seek advice about using an electric blanket if you have diabetes or are pregnant.

Heaters

Every winter, check your heater to ensure it is safe to use. Inspect the electrical cables and make sure there are no exposed wires or loose connections.

Only use one appliance per power point and turn off when not in use.

Gas heaters must be vented adequately, because the carbon monoxide produced when the gas is burnt is odourless, colourless and deadly.

It is important to have gas heaters serviced regularly by a qualified tradesperson to ensure there are no carbon monoxide leaks.

Safety tips

  • Heaters should be placed on a flat and level surface.
  • Never use a gas heater or BBQ made for outdoor use inside your home.
  • Always supervise children and pets when heaters are in use.
  • Keep heaters well clear from items that might burn. A minimum of 1m clearance from clothes, bedding, furniture, curtains and other combustibles is recommended.
Last updated
8 June 2018
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