Being safe around heaters and fires

Heaters and fires can come in several different varieties and forms. From industrial, high-powered gas heaters to smaller electric fan blowers. Whatever type of heater you have, following the Blue Watch advice will help you remain safer.

Accidental dwelling fires sourced from space heating appliances resulted in 30 fatalities in 2012-13. 

5 Blue Watch tips for safer heaters

  1. Never place combustible materials like clothes or furniture next to a heater.
  2. Heaters should stand where they cannot be knocked over, away from beds, furniture and fabrics.
  3. Do not put anything on the heater or use it to dry clothes.
  4. Make sure all heaters are guarded, particularly if you have children.
  5. Never try to move any portable heater while it is switched on. Always turn it off and allow it to cool first.

Gas heaters

Ensure the heater conforms to British Standards, and have it serviced regularly. All of your gas appliances, including your gas fire or heater should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you do not have your gas appliances regularly serviced and safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer you could be putting you, your family, your tenants and anyone else who visits your property at risk and in possible danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. To find out more, visit Gas Safe Register: 
Gas Safe Register

When changing a gas heater cylinder, try to do this in open air. Otherwise, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting it. Never turn on the valve of the new cylinder until it is securely connected to the heater.

Store spare cylinders upright and outside whenever possible. Never store them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment.

Open fires and chimneys


All counties in Britain experienced a rise in chimney fires in 2012-13.


Have your chimney swept before lighting the first fire of winter. Do not allow soot or ash to build up.

Inspect your chimney breast, particularly in the roof space. Make sure it is sound and that sparks or fumes cannot escape through cracks or broken bricks.

Use a fireguard to keep children and pets away from a lit open fire.

Burn only recommended fuels and avoid overloading the grate or building fires too high. Equally, let fires burn down before going to bed. Check the hearth, floor and furnishings near the fire for sparks or embers.

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