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Working from home can be a fire risk

22 January 2019

FIREFIGHTERS ARE concerned that home workers are taking risks with their heating in order to save money on their energy bills.

More than a million and a half people1 now regularly work from home and London Fire Brigade is warning this could lead to more fires as people look for cheaper ways of heating their homes.

Last year there were around four fires2 every week in London involving electric heaters, candles and open fires, many of which could have been avoided.

More than half of these occurred between the hours of 9am and 5pm and a common cause was due to portable heaters being placed too close to furniture or candles being used to light a room and falling onto carpets, papers or clothes.

Another risk for people at home is carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly maintained gas appliances such as cookers, heaters, gas fires and solid fuel burners. To help combat this, the Brigade is holding a ‘Safer Heating Week’ to ensure people who need to heat their homes throughout the day, know how to do so safely.

The Brigade’s deputy assistant commissioner Andy Hearn said, “While many of the heating-related fires we see involve older people struggling to stay warm in winter, anyone can place an electric heater too close to clothing, blankets or curtains or leave a tea light to burn through its holder.

Our firefighters have attended fires caused by clothes drying over heaters and portable heaters falling over and setting light to furniture, carpets or curtains.

“The aim of our Safer Heating Week is to highlight a regular household item like a portable heater can be dangerous if not used with care and also to encourage people who may not think of themselves as a fire risk to realise they could be.

“It’s not just home workers that are at risk – parents, carers, students and anyone who spends a lot of time in the house could be tempted to try cheaper, dangerous alternatives to keep warm.”

Safer Heating Week3 ties in with Big Energy Saving Week and the Brigade is also encouraging people to see where they can save on their energy bills so they are not tempted to compromise on safety.

Maria Wardrobe, director of communications from National Energy Action, the UK fuel poverty charity, said, “We are delighted to support London Fire Brigade’s week of action.

“It coincides with our own campaign focusing on the need for people to stay warm and safe in their homes by improving the energy efficiency of the home and reducing energy bills.

You could save hundreds of pounds a year on your bills by switching supplier or changing tariffs with your current supplier. Make sure that the supplier also offers you any discounts you may be entitled to such as the Warm Home Discount.

“If you are in debt to your energy supplier and struggling to get on top of it, then speak to your supplier as soon as possible. If they know there is a problem they can work with you to find a solution.”