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Electric heater fire warning as Brits worry about energy bills

Written by: Emma Lunn
Electrical Safety First predicts a spike in portable electric heater use this winter as households turn off central heating to keep energy bills down.

A survey by the charity found that 77% of respondents were either very or fairly concerned about rising energy costs when it comes to heating their home this winter. Of those concerned, 43% are considering using an electrical heater to heat a single room in their home due to concerns about the cost of running central heating.

But Electrical Safety First is warning consumers to use electric heaters carefully this winter as the misuse of them can lead to fires.

Of the 3,000 adults surveyed, one in 10 admit to having used their electric heater to dry their clothes, posing a serious risk of fire. The charity says that electric heaters should never be used to dry clothes, or obstructed, as covering electric heaters can increase the risk of a fire.

Electric heaters will typically heat a small room in a short period of time, but they are not designed to be permanent fixtures in the home and should always be plugged directly into a mains socket outlet. Of those surveyed who currently own an electric heater, one in six admitted they connect it with an extension lead, increasing the risk of a domestic fire.

Lesley Rudd, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “Consumer concerns about rising energy prices are pushing people towards alternative ways of heating their homes but we are urging people to be cautious this winter if they are using electric heaters.

“Although they can be seen as a more economical way to keep warm, if used incorrectly they could cause a fire damaging property and possessions, and present a risk of serious injury or even death. So, if you are buying a portable heater this year, make sure you buy from a retailer that you know and trust and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions”.

Tips to use portable electric heaters safely

* Put your heater on a level surface, well away from anything or anyone that could knock it over.

* Make sure your heater is at least one metre away from combustible materials, such as paper, furniture or curtains.

* Never use a portable electric heater to dry your clothes.

* Don’t leave your heater unattended whilst in use or while you are asleep

* Never power a heater from an extension lead – they can easily be overloaded and cause fires.

* Regularly inspect your heater for damage and deterioration. If it isn’t in good condition, don’t use it.

* Avoid second-hand heaters. Make sure you buy from manufacturers or retailers that you know and trust.

* Make sure that you register your heater with the manufacturer so that, if there is a problem, it can contact you to repair or replace.

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