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Winter safety tips

By Natalia Petkidis

The winter months are a time for keeping warm which means making use of products like heaters, wheat/heat packs, hot water bottles and electric blankets or sitting near a cosy fire. There are safety risks with many winter products, so follow these important safety tips to help you warm up safely this winter.


  • Your heater should sit on a flat level surface and be at least one metre away from clothes, cots, bedding, curtains and other combustible materials.
  • Heaters designed for the outdoors should never be brought inside your home.
  • Before using your outdoor heater, check it for leaves or debris which may have accumulated if you haven’t used your heater for some time.
  • Always supervise children and pets when heaters are in use.
  • Do not leave devices on overnight, or unsupervised.


  • Before you light a fire to heat your home this winter, check that your chimney is clean and well ventilated.
  • Place a mesh screen in front of your fireplace to prevent sparks and wood falling out.
  • Never use petrol, oil or kerosene to help light the fire. They could cause an explosion.
  • Fireplaces fuelled by alcohol must comply with a mandatory safety standard which sets safety features to assist with refuelling as well as size and stability requirements.
  • Always supervise children around open flames or hot surfaces.

Fire pits

  • If you plan to spend time with family or friends gathered around an outdoor fire pit, make sure the fire pit is kept clear of structures and plant foliage and is positioned on flat, hard level ground.
  • Don’t place a fire pit on a flammable surface, such as timber decking or an outdoor rug, and don’t use a fire pit if it’s too windy.
  • Never leave a firepit unattended and always supervise children and pets.

Children’s clothing

  • Children’s nightwear, such as pyjamas and dressing gowns, can be highly flammable.
  • Check the labelling on children’s nightwear to determine the fire risk rating.
  • Never warm or dry clothing directly on a heater.
  • Be cautious of children’s clothing purchased online, on holiday or received as gifts from overseas as they may not comply with Australian mandatory safety standards.
  • Keep your child and children’s furniture, like cots, away from open flames and heaters.

Smoke alarms

  • Don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke alarm every year and test your smoke alarm is working every month.
  • If you’ve had your smoke alarm for more than 10 years, it’s time for a replacement.
  • If you move to a new house, check the smoke alarm — the date of manufacture should be displayed on the smoke alarm.

Electric blankets

  • Check your electric blanket before use each year. Check that cords aren’t frayed and wires aren’t 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.
  • Never place a baby on or under an electric blanket.

Hot water bottles

  • Never overfill or use boiling water to fill up your hot water bottle. Always use hot tap water to avoid burning yourself.
  • Don’t place a hot water bottle directly on your skin – always use a fitted cover or wrap the bottle.
  • Never leave a hot water bottle on one part of the body for more than 20 minutes.
  • Never use a hot water bottle for a baby.
  • If the hot water bottle is marked with a ‘daisy wheel’ date you can use this to see when the water bottle was made.
  • It’s best to buy a new hot water bottle every year.
  • If a hot water bottle is more than three years old or appears faded, don’t buy it.
  • Check the water bottle for leaks prior to use.
  • Find out how to read the ‘daisy wheel’ on the Product Safety Australia website.

Candles, matches and lighters

  • Make sure open flames are never left unsupervised and they are kept away from any combustible materials – e.g. curtains, clothing and bedding.
  • Always supervise children around open flames and ensure lighters and matches are kept out of reach.
  • Flameless candles powered by button batteries must meet mandatory standards which includes compliance tests to ensure that the button and coin batteries will not easily release from the product.
  • Candles with lead wicks and combustible candle holders are banned and should never be used.

Wheat and heat packs

  • Be sure to follow the heating instructions for the wheat or heat pack.
  • Always allow the pack to cool each time before reheating.
  • Don’t place a heated pack on or in bedding. Blankets trap the product’s heat and may cause it to ignite.
  • Never use a wheat pack for a baby.
  • If you notice a burning smell, let the wheat bag cool then dispose of the bag — it’s no longer safe to use.


  • Mould can form in areas of your home where there is moisture and poor ventilation or can start growing on items that get wet and are unable to dry out quickly.
  • Mould associated with damp buildings can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, wheeze, respiratory infections and worsen asthma and allergic conditions.
  • Open windows and doors each day to ventilate your home and reduce mould growth.
  • Clean up any mould as soon as you notice it.
  • Scrub mould off hard surfaces using soapy water or vinegar. The physical action of scrubbing is important as all the mould must be physically removed to prevent regrowth.
  • Clean up any mould residue caused by the scrubbing. Use a damp cloth or vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Dry the area then find and fix the source of the moisture.

Article sourced from

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