Prevent serious injuries and fatalities this season by being aware of safety risks of winter products

Department of Customer Service

As the weather gets colder, many of us will spend the chilly nights curling up on the lounge in our winter woollies with a hot water bottle or snuggling up in bed with an electric blanket.

While our favourite winter products make us feel cosy, Executive Director Community Engagement for NSW Fair Trading, Andrew Gavrielatos, warns that many of them can also cause serious injuries if they are old, worn out or not used properly.

“We’re urging everyone to keep themselves and their families safe by carefully following the instructions or user guides on all winter warmer products,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

Items to pay particular attention to are children’s sleepwear, wheat bags and heat packs, hot water bottles, electric blankets and heaters as all of these products are notorious for causing injuries and/or fires.

“Parents are often misled when it comes to the fire danger rating on their children’s clothing and assume a low rating means it is not flammable, but this is not the case,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Even clothing and nightwear labelled as ‘low fire danger’ can catch fire, so please keep your children away from open heat sources at all times.”

Wheat bags, heat packs and hot water bottles may seem harmless, but Mr Gavrielatos is reminding people to use with care as burns often occur when used incorrectly.

“Always allow wheat bags and heat packs to cool completely before reheating, and if you notice a burning smell, let it cool and then discard as it is no longer safe to use.

“Over 200 Australians are treated for serious burns caused by hot water bottles each year. These injuries can be prevented by checking your hot water bottle for signs of wear and tear before each use and filling it up with hot water from the tap rather than boiling water.”

Electric blankets and indoor heaters are potential fire hazards when used incorrectly, so it is critical to read the user manual carefully before use.

“Electric blankets should only be used to warm up the bed and then turned off before you go to sleep, and never place heavy items on the bed when the electric blanket is turned on.

“Heaters are necessary for many Australian families throughout the winter, but the manufacturer’s instructions must be followed to minimise the risks,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“Keep heaters well clear from items that might burn, always place them on a flat and level surface and regularly inspect the electrical cables.”

Tragically, more than 50 people across Australia die in housefires every year, and most of the homes do not have working smoke alarms.

“Please do not become complacent with your smoke alarms. You could save your own life or the life of a loved one by testing your alarm each month and replacing the batteries every year,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

Consumers can check if a product has been recalled for safety reasons by visiting Product Safety Australia.

/Public Release.