Winter home safety: Protect your family with these essential tips
As the weather cools down, consumers across NSW are being reminded to follow simple, no-cost measures to protect themselves from harms caused by commonly used heating products.
Families should be vigilant with “winter warmers” such as electric blankets, heaters, hot water bottles, wheat/heat packs and fireplaces, and aware of safety risks associated these items.
Tips for keeping safe this winter:
- Smoke alarms: Replace your smoke alarm if it's been more than 10 years since installation. Test it regularly and change batteries every year.
- Electric blankets: Check your electric blanket for frayed cords and worn-out wires. Always turn it off before going to sleep and avoid placing any heavy objects on top of it.
- Hot water bottles: Use hot tap water, not boiling water, to fill up your hot water bottle. Always cover it with a fitted cover or wrap, and never place it directly on your skin. Familiarise yourself with the 'daisy wheel' date, which indicates when the bottle was made.
- Candles: Never leave candles unattended and keep them away from combustible materials. Keep lighters and matches out of reach of children.
- Fireplaces: Ensure that your chimney is clean and well-ventilated before lighting a fire. Use a mesh screen to prevent sparks and wood from falling out.
- Heaters: Keep your heater on a flat, level surface and away from any combustible materials. Don't bring outdoor heaters inside your home.
- Wheat/heat packs: Always allow the pack to cool before reheating it. Follow the heating instructions and dispose of it if you smell burning.
- Decorative alcohol-fuelled devices: Don't leave them unsupervised and keep them away from combustible materials. Refill only after the flame is completely extinguished and the device is cool.
- Children's nightwear: Avoid loose-fitting sleepwear and keep children away from open flames and heaters.
- Mould: Clean up any mould as soon as you notice it and find and fix the source of moisture.
NSW Fair Trading’s Consumer Protection Unit conduct annual inspections on a range of products to ensure compliance with mandatory safety standards.
During routine inspections at GY Kids Pty Ltd in Mt Druitt and Bankstown stores in April 2021, investigators found 121 sets and 40 sets respectively of children's nightwear which did not affix the required fire hazard warning labels.
GY Kids Pty Ltd was charged and pleaded guilty to two counts of offer goods that do not comply with safety standards. GY Kids Pty Ltd was convicted and fined a total of $1,000 at Parramatta Local Court on 18 February 2022.
NSW Fair Trading received 15 complaints and 13 enquiries about ‘winter warmer’ products in 2022.
Check if a product you own has been recalled by visiting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Product Safety website.
Quotes attributable to NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann:
“Simple precautions such as checking for recalls on all products, following safety guidelines, and being vigilant about safety can go a long way in protecting your family and home.
“Smoke alarms are our first line of defence against fires – so it’s vital their batteries are replaced annually, they are regularly tested, and alarms more than 10 years old are replaced.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to burns and accidents related to heating products and it is crucial to keep them away from open flames, heaters, and loose-fitting sleepwear.
“By being proactive and making safety a top priority we can all enjoy a warm and cosy winter season free of harm this year.”