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London Fire Brigade issues advice on winter heating amid fire concerns

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London Fire Brigade has issued advice on how to safely stay warm through the winter nights over concerns heating-related fires could soar to levels not seen since the ‘Big Freeze’ of 2010

With the Met Office predicting it could be a colder winter than normal and with the rising cost of energy bills, the Brigade is concerned the next few months could see fires rise back up to 2010 levels as people turn to alternative methods to heat their homes.

December 2010 saw record-breaking temperatures which froze much of the UK, beating the 1982 record for coldest winter. During 2010, there were more than 290 fires caused by heating equipment. The Brigade has revealed they have not seen the same number of fires since, with crews attending around 40 per cent fewer heating fires in homes last year compared to the peak in 2010.

Popular choices for cost-effective methods to stay warm at night include portable heaters and electric blankets, but the Brigade is urging caution around using these appliances, particularly while sleeping. Last week a man was taken to hospital after a house fire in Wembley caused by materials placed too close to a halogen heater.

London firefighters are now encouraging people to carry out some simple safety measures before using electric blankets, including checking for any wear and tear by checking if any wires are visible or poking through the fabric, looking for any scorch marks and listening to see if the control makes a buzzing sound when switched on.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, said: “While we might not see the same freezing temperatures that we saw in 2010, the next few months are forecast to see temperatures drop. This, coupled with rising energy costs, means there’s a very real risk heating-related fires could even surpass numbers seen a decade ago. We know that people will turn to alternative ways to keep their families warm overnight without turning on the heating, we just want to make sure that people are staying safe at the same time.

“For example, we know that people may want to use portable heaters to heat just one room or use electric blankets in bed. It’s really important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure these items are safety registered and in good working order. If you’re using these items around children always supervise them carefully and place heaters somewhere where they won’t be accidentally knocked over and away from anything that could catch fire. “

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