Don't play with fire in Electrical Fire Safety Week

10 November 2014

Electrical Fire Safety Week 

People are playing with fire in their efforts to find cheaper heating options this winter, research by Electrical Safety First has revealed, with many unaware of the dangers that the alternatives can pose.

With concerns about rising energy prices forcing people to use portable heaters in order to warm their homes, the Charity is joining forces with DCLG’s Fire Kills Campaign to warn of the risks associated with these items as part of Electrical Fire Safety Week, which runs from the 10 – 16 November.

Electrical Safety First’s research found that 78% of people were worried about the rising costs of energy bills, and over half would use portable heaters as an alternative to keep warm this winter.

However, it was also revealed that many could put themselves and their loved ones at risk by using the heaters incorrectly. 38% of people admitted that they would leave a heater switched on and unattended, whilst 21% would leave one switched on overnight. And with portable heaters having caused 73 deaths, around 1000 injuries and over 3,800 fires since 2009/10,[1] the dangers posed by using them incorrectly are very real.

The elderly are particularly vulnerable. Those aged 80 and over make up nearly 40% of the fatalities caused by portable heater fires last year,[2] even though 33% of people would use a portable heater to keep an elderly relative warm. 

In order to minimise the danger, Electrical Safety First produced the following guidance for heating homes safely:

  • Never leave portable heaters unattended
  • Never leave them on whilst sleeping
  • Ensure that they are positioned well away from anything which could knock them over
  • Ensure they are at least a metre away from any combustible materials, such as paper or curtains
  • Never buy second hand halogen heaters
  • Never power a halogen heater from an extension lead – these can easily be overloaded and cause fires
  • Regularly inspect your heater for damage. If it’s damaged, don’t use it

On this guidance, and on the dangers posed by portable heaters, Emma Apter at Electrical Safety First said:

“Having a warm home this winter is something everyone deserves, so we welcome portable heaters as a low cost option at a time when energy costs are spiralling. However, it is vital that the dangers associated with these items are understood – particularly as our research suggests that people are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk by using them in an unsafe way. By following our short, simple guidance, people can stay safe and stay warm this winter”.


Editor’s Notes:

All research, unless otherwise stated, is derived from an Electrical Safety First survey conducted between 13 and 24 October 2014. Figures are representative of all UK adults.

The Fire Kills Campaign is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)


[1] DCLG Fire Statistics Great Britain

[2] DCLG Fire Statistics Great Britain