Heating your home

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Using a portable heater

  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes.

  • Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed.

  • Try to secure heaters against a wall to stop them from falling over.

  •  Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas. Heaters consume oxygen so you could suffocate if a room is not properly aired. 

Open fires and preventing a chimney fire

  • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks and hot embers.

  • Make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go to bed.

  • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.

  • Don’t use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin to light your fire.

  • Don’t burn paper or rubbish.

  • Do not overload the fire with fuel.

  • Go into the loft occasionally when the fire is alight to check for smoke from cracks, defective brickwork or mortar joints.

Wood-burning stoves

Wood-burning stoves and wood burning boilers should use only the right quality of wood. They should be properly installed, maintained and regularly serviced by a qualified and competent person. If your wood burner is not burning correctly, contact the company or shop that sold it to you or contact the Association of British Solid Fuel Appliance Manufacturers for advice.

  • The stove or boiler should be installed by a competent person.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the building regulations and codes of practice.

  • Ensure there is enough air coming into the room and that the chimney is clean. This will assist the burning process and reduce the likelihood of airborne particulate within the room which can be hazardous to health, especially for those with a pre-existing respiratory illness.

  • Wood burning stoves and boilers should be placed on a fire-resistant base. Placing them directly onto a hardwood floor or carpeted surface increases the risk of a fire.

  • The wood should be dry and well-seasoned which usually takes about two years. A well-seasoned log will have drying-out splits in the ends. Wet or newly-felled wood can cause tar or creosote to form in the wood burner and chimney.

  • Creosote should be removed through yearly cleaning. There is a significant danger that creosote can ignite, causing a chimney fire. A chimney fire has the potential to result in significant loss of property or life.

  • If the wood burner has been used slowly this should be followed by a period of faster burning to dry out any creosote and to warm up the chimney.

  • The chimney should be cleaned at the end of each heating season and at least once during the heating season. It should also be inspected regularly.

  • Do not stack logs or place any other combustible materials immediately adjacent to the stove or boiler. The Service has been called to fires caused as a result of logs being stored against the hot external surface of wood burners.

  • Children should not be permitted near hot surfaces or the stove door.

  • Use a protective fireguard that is suited to the design of the stove.

  • Use extra caution and proper protection when opening the stove door, adding to the fire or touching any part of the wood burning stove to prevent burns.

  • Never leave a fire unattended for any reason.

If you do have a chimney fire

  • Dial 999 and ask for the fire and rescue service.

  • Alert everyone in the house.

  • Leave the property, closing the door to the room where the fire is behind you, and wait for the fire and rescue service to arrive.