Beware of the 'winter warmer' risks

Published Friday, 03 June, 2022 at 02:35 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

With the winter weather feeling like it has have already arrived, the Office of Fair Trading is urging Queenslanders to stay safe by knowing the risks associated with commonly used heating products. 

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said it was important for all Queensland residents to check their heating devices before using them and to be aware of the safety risks associated with winter products.

“With the temperature dropping around the state, I want to warn Queenslanders to be careful when around heating appliances, and also when shopping for winter clothes,” the Attorney said.

“Knowing the risks of your ‘winter warmers’ helps you find practical steps to avoid harm and keep yourself and your loved ones safe and warm.

“Common ‘winter warmers’ include electric blankets, heaters, hot water bottles, wheat/heat packs and fireplaces. Additionally, we keep our families warm, particularly children, by buying them winter pyjamas and spending more time inside.  

“Some also like to decorate their homes for winter by lighting candles or using alcohol fuelled decorative fireplaces.

“When using many of the ‘winter warmers’ for the first time I would urge Queenslanders to read the product’s accompanying instructions before use and keep those instructions in a safe place for future reference.

“The winter months also mean that children will be spending more time indoors. Caregivers are urged to pay careful attention to the ways in which they can ensure the safety of their little ones.”

To use ‘winter warmers’ safely, consumers are urged to:

  • Ensure your smoke alarms are in working order
  • Never leave open flames unsupervised.
  • Avoid falling asleep with your electric blanket turned on, and ensure cords are not frayed or worn out before use.
  • Wrap hot water bottles before use and always avoid direct contact with skin.
  • Dispose of heat/wheat packs that begin to look or smell burnt, once they are cool.
  • Place a mesh screen in front of fireplaces to prevent sparks falling out.
  • Ventilate your home to reduce the growth of mould.
  • Only refill decorative alcohol fuelled devices when the fire has been extinguished and the device is cool. If you have a smaller ‘table top’ style device you should stop using it.
  • Keep children away from open flames and heaters. Children’s pyjamas can be highly flammable and can cause severe burns if caught alight.
  • Supervise children who might be playing with toys that are powered by button batteries and ensure that devices powered by button batteries have secure battery compartments to prevent access to the batteries.
  • Store all hazardous chemicals, lighters and matches out of reach of children.

The Attorney said while the ‘winter warmers’ advice was a simple no-cost measure for consumers to follow, the difference between following or not following them could become a matter of life or death.

“I would encourage all consumers, especially those who supervise young children, to know the risks of their ‘winter warmers’ and read the list of safety tips we have prepared to ensure they stay safe and warm this winter,” she said.

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Media contact:         Inga Williams     0439 949 719

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