Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Power Cut Safety Advice

As thousands of homes in Essex cope without power following Monday's storms Essex County Fire and Rescue Service ios urging people to be careful using candles, fire places, and portable heaters to heat and light their homes.

If power is not restored by the weekend it is important that people take special care during the firefighters strike between 6:30pm and 11:00pm this Friday, November 1.

Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, Community Safety, said: “We know that a great many homes are coping without power and people will be using candles for light, camping stoves for cooking and paraffin and gas heaters.

“It is vital that extra care is taken. We have already had an incident in which an 80 year-old man was injured when his camping cooker exploded setting light to his kitchen.

“All we ask is that householders currently without power take a little extra care to make sure they stay safe.”

Candles should never be left unattended and should always be put out before bed. All candles should be stood upright 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 should be kept away from windows, curtains, children and pets and that night lights can melt plastic surfaces such as the tops of 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 when no one is in the room and also when the last person goes to bed.

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

Both gas and paraffin heaters should only be used in a well ventilated area. They consume oxygen from the atmosphere and can cause death by suffocation, if not adequately ventilated. Don’t place heaters near curtains or furnishings and never use them for drying clothes.

These heaters can cause a build up of deadly carbon monoxide gas so it is vital that they are only used in well ventilated areas of the home.

Signs to look for which warn of a carbon monoxide leak: 
- Yellow or brown staining around appliances 
- Pilot lights frequently blow out 
- Increased condensation inside windows 
- Yellow rather than blue flame 
- If you are suffering shortness of breath, mild nausea, mild headaches or flu like symptoms

Anyone with an open fire should make sure that they use a fire guard and that they have had their chimney cleaned for the start of winter and make sure that all fires are fully extinguished before going to bed.

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