Fiery demonstration reminds families to put safety first this winter

Published: 
30 Jun 2011

Queensland is experiencing its coldest winter in years and as people dig out more of their winter warmers one message is coming through loud and clear – being safety conscious is extremely important.

In a fiery demonstration at the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) Safehome Fire Education Centre in Petrie today, Acting Queensland Premier Paul Lucas showed just how easy it is for things to go wrong when trying to keep your family warm.

“This winter is shaping up to be the coldest many of us can remember,” Mr Lucas said.

“People have been digging out products they may not have used for years such as warmer sleepwear, heaters and hot water bottles to keep their families warm.

“While these options can be very effective at warming up a cold home or bed, people need to be aware of how to use them properly to ensure they and their children stay safe.”

Mr Lucas warned that while there were mandatory safety standards in place for children’s sleepwear and hot water bottles to minimise the risk of injury, parents had an important role to play to ensure products were used safely.

“Children’s winter sleepwear is usually made from cotton which can burn rapidly if ignited by heat,” he said.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is a child suffering from what can be horrific injuries because the clothing they’re wearing catches fire from an open heat source such as a heater or fire.

“Parents can do a number of things to prevent burn injuries to their children, including checking the fire hazard of their children’s sleepwear on the compulsory fire hazard label.

“Fire hazard labels on children’s sleepwear show if a garment is classed as low or high fire danger.

“If a child will be around an open heat source, parents simply should not choose sleepwear that is classed as high fire danger.

“Parents should also be cautious of low fire hazard garments as they can still be flammable.

“The safest strategy is to keep children, especially infants, away from heaters or fire places altogether.”

A Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit study showed that children under five years of age account for around 33 per cent of all burn related injury presentations to emergency departments.

Around 35 per cent those children presented with burns due to contact with hot objects, and ten per cent of those were due to a heater.

Mr Lucas warned hot water bottles could also cause serious burns if not used properly.

“Most people aren’t aware that hot water bottles have a limited life span and should be replaced at least every two years,” he said.

“Hot water bottles that are not made properly or are too old can burst or leak their scalding hot contents, causing third degree burns.”

According to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading’s product safety manager Dave Strachan, when buying a hot water bottle you should always check it complies with mandatory safety standards. This should be marked clearly on the bottle or its packaging.

“Before using a hot water bottle always check its age and if it has any leaks, as hot water bottles may look fine on the outside but could be damaged on the inside,” Mr Strachan said.

“Most hot water bottles have a ‘daisy wheel’ located on the bottle which shows when it was produced. You should throw the hot water bottle away within two years of this date.

“Hot water bottles should always be wrapped in a towel or fabric cover for use – they should never be placed directly on the skin.

“Direct contact with a hot water bottle can cause serious burns, especially to children and older people who have thinner, more delicate skin.

“While they may feel fine to touch, this type of burn happens gradually – you will not feel your skin burning until it’s too late.”

Contact details

For more information on safe winter product use visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or www.productsafety.gov.au or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).