Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:47 GMT on Saturday, 1st December 2012.
Strathclyde Fire & Rescue urge households to keep warm safely during the cold snap

Picture is copyright of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

STRATHCLYDE Fire and Rescue are urging people to keep warm safely this winter as temperatures dip as low as -7.

The fire service have warned that portable heaters are a major cause of concern, as are faulty electric blankets which cause around 5,000 electrical fires in the UK every year.

Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay, Director of Community Safety, said: "Keeping warm safely is vital to avoid causing a fire in your home. There is a real risk, particularly when people fall asleep, that items like clothing and bedding can catch fire if a portable heater is left switched on.

 "If someone falls asleep in this situation, a smoke alarm could be their only chance of waking up. I'd urge everyone to check their smoke alarms.

 "If you don't have a smoke alarm or know a relative, friend or neighbour who doesn't have one, the local fire crew will fit one free of charge."

 To get a free Home Fire Safety Visit by Strathclyde firefighters, simply phone freephone 0800 0731 999.

Here are some potentially life and home-saving tips from Strathclyde Fire & Rescue to get you through the winter:

  •  Gas/Open Fires/Electric Heaters
  • Don't place heaters near curtains or furnishings, and never use them for drying clothes.
  • Do not sit too close to fires or heaters. Your clothing or chair could catch fire.
  • Always use a fire guard with open fires, especially if you have young children, elderly or disabled people in the property. Preferably the fire guard should be in a fixed position.
  • Portable gas heaters should be checked for leaks, and refilled outside in the open air.
  • Always place heaters in a position where they cannot be easily knocked over.
  • Choose electric heaters that have automatic safety switches that turn off the unit if it is tipped over accidentally .
  • Check the power lead before plugging in the electric heater; if frayed, worn or broken, do not use, replace the heater.
  • Never use an extension lead with a portable heater.
  • Electric Blankets
  • When buying your electric blanket you should;
  • Buy it from a reliable source.
  • Check that it has a UK safety standard mark - BEAB  Approved in white capital letters on a black background - this symbol means the blanket has been independently tested and meets the latest UK and European safety standards.
  • Before you use your blanket make sure that it or its cord does not show any of the following danger signs:
  • Fraying fabric
  • Scorch marks
  • Exposed elements
  • Creasing or folding
  • Soiling
  • Damp patches
  • Tie tapes damaged or missing
  • Worn flex
  • Loose connections
  • An old BEAB safety mark - a round symbol. This means it is more than 10 years old.
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