Shropshire Star

Beware switching off central heating in favour of appliances, warns fire service

Residents who are looking to save money on rising energy bills by switching off their central heating and swapping to old heating appliances have been warned to take care.

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The fire service covering the Tenbury Wells, Leominster, Leintwardine and Bromyard area says that in the 10 years to December 31, 2021, some 234 house fires were caused by heating appliances, resulting in four deaths and 53 injuries in 37 incidents.

Electric blankets, space heaters and wood burners have been included in the alert issued by Herefordshire & Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS).

Emma Roberts, the HWFRS head of prevention, said: "Portable heating equipment and electric blankets that haven’t been used for a while should be checked for broken cabling or exposed wires, and no portable heating appliance should ever be covered or left unattended.

"I’d particularly urge everyone to check that their older or more vulnerable friends and family members are not using faulty appliances, by visually checking any heaters and electric blankets that they may be relying on to stay warm.

“It’s also vital, if buying online to ensure you buy from a trusted retailer, either direct from the manufacturer’s website or a well-known High Street name. That way if something goes wrong, you can return the product for repair or a refund."

The fire service says that in recent years, up to a half of electric blankets failed safety checks in testing sessions around the two counties, with many of the blankets – some of them decades old - having potentially life-threatening defects, such as exposed wires or other visible damage.

Additionally, even new appliances, if bought online, can be sub-standard, they say.

Online marketplaces have become more popular as a convenient and cheap way of buying equipment, especially when it has been harder to get to the shops during the pandemic.

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