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A person wrapped in a chunky grey blanket, holding a cup and hot water bottle in a cover.

Have you got your woolen socks ready? As the cool weather sets in, the warmth and comfort from a hot water bottle, heat pack or heater are undeniable. But what about the health and safety risks? 

Hot drinks.

There's something comforting about wrapping your hands around a mug of steaming hot tea, coffee or a hot chocolate (perhaps with a marshmallow or two). To reduce the risk of scalds and burns, try a "keep" cup or thermos flask with a lid that is comfortable to use. 

Electric Blankets.

Do a check of these before using. Blankets that have frayed cords, or the fabric covering the wires is worn out, need to be discarded and a new one purchased. 

Hot water bottles.

These can cause serious burns if not used properly. Don't ever overfill or use boiling water. Always use a fitted cover or wrap in a handtowel when using. Check for any deterioration before use.

Heat packs.

Follow the heating instructions and never use it in a bed. Heat may be trapped and cause bedding to catch alight. Be extra careful of homemade ones that have no heating times as a guide. 

Heaters and fireplaces. 

No matter how old they are, they must be checked and cleaned before use. Depending upon the type of heater consider proper venting and safety guards. Keep a minimum of 1-metre clearance from curtains, clothes and washing. 

First aid.

First aid for burns is essential. If you do get burnt, you need to immediately apply running cold water to the burn. Depending on how serious the burn is, you may need to call an ambulance or seek medical help.

Find out more on First aid for Burns and Scalds here.

Smoke Alarms.

Only working smoke alarms save lives. You cannot smell smoke while you are asleep so it is important to make sure that alarms are working.

  • Test that your smoke alarm/s are working. If not, change the batteries or replace the alarm.
  • Check the smoke alarm is in date. Smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years.
  • Give the smoke alarm a vacuum, to remove dust and any insects. You should do this about every 6 months.

In NSW to meet legislation, you must have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of the home, placed between bedrooms and living areas. Fire and Rescuse NSW also recommends having one in each bedroom. Hardwired and interconnected is best.

Fireplaces and chimneys.

Have your flues and chimneys cleaned regularly. Place a fire screen in front of open fires to protect your family.

  • Have your chimney serviced prior to using it by a qualified tradesperson.
  • Purchase a fire screen if you do not own one. Fire screens should always be placed in front of fireplaces when in use.
  • Ensure your wood pile sits at least a metre away from the fireplace.
  • Choose a safe place to store matches and lighters where children cannot reach and that is at least a metre away from the fireplace.

For more information visit Well Winter safety tipsStay safe this winter, or Winter fire safety.

 IDEAS does information so you can keep warm and safe this winter.