Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Autumn fire safety

As summer comes to an end Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to make sure that they're ready for autumn and winter.

The nights are drawing in and the weather is turning colder as autumn officially begins on Wednesday September 23. At this time of year the Service often experiences an increase in calls to domestic incidents caused by candles, heaters, fireplaces and electric blankets.

With heating systems set to be turned on for the first time in months now is the ideal time to ensure that your boiler is entirely safe by getting it serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Poorly maintained gas boilers don’t just represent a fire risk, there is also the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer which seeps into your home without any smell and creates symptoms which can easily be confused with a winter cold.

Carbon monoxide detectors will warn people of any danger and every home should have one.

Candles should never be left unattended and should always be put out before you go to sleep. All candles should be stood straight up in a proper holder. No candle should ever be stood on a flammable surface, they should always be burned on a heat proof surface and always extinguished before they burn into the holder.

It is also important to remember that all candles are kept away from windows, curtains, children and pets and that night lights can melt plastic surfaces such as the top of a TV or the side of a bath tub.

Heaters should always be positioned with their backs against the wall and if possible secure them to the wall to prevent them from falling over. Switch heaters off if you’re not in the room and also when you go to bed.

Portable gas heaters should have the cylinders stored and changed outside or in a well ventilated area.

Both gas and paraffin heaters should only be used in a well ventilated rooms. They consume oxygen from the atmosphere and create carbon monoxide. Don’t place heaters near curtains or furnishings and never use them for drying clothes.

All electric blankets should be checked and the best rule of thumb is that if your blanket is more that 10 years-old or shows any sign of wear and tear then it should be replaced immediately.

When anyone buys a new electric blanket make sure it has ‘overheat protection’, which will cut off the electricity if it becomes too hot. All electric blankets should carry the British Standard Kitemark and the British Electrotechnical Approvals Board (BEAB) symbol on them.

Anyone with an open fire should make sure that they use a fire guard and that they have had their chimney cleaned. Also ensure that all fires are fully extinguished before you go to bed.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick said: “Summer is over and autumn is now here so it’s the perfect time to make sure your heating system and chimney are in good order before you start to use them for the winter.

“It is also the perfect time to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

“By taking a few simple precautions now you can make sure that you and your family enjoy a safe and cosy autumn and winter."

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