Public urged to use heating devices correctly

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Public urged to use heating devices correctly

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is reminding people to use heating devices correctly following the death of an elderly man in a dwelling fire in Ardmore in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.

The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed, but an electric blanket, the remains of which were found in a chair, has been identified as the most likely cause. The deceased was known to wrap the blanket around himself to relieve lower back pain.

The remains of a second electric blanket and an electric heater were also found in the fire ruins.

Fire and Emergency NZ National Advisor, Fire Risk Management, Peter Gallagher says the fatality serves as a tragic reminder to people to take care combating winter chills. In the last 12 months there have been 105 heater fires and nine electric blanket fires.

"Our advice to people is observe the heater metre rule. Keep furniture, clothes and children at least one metre away from heaters and fireplaces.

"Electric blankets should be placed flat on beds and people should make sure that controls and cords are not twisted or caught between the mattress and the base of the bed. At the first sign of wear electric blankets should be checked by a qualified electrician."

Mr Gallagher also urged everyone to check they have working smoke alarms.

"Smoke alarms provide early warning of fires and give people time to address the issue or safely get out of buildings."

The dwelling in which the fatality occurred did not have a working smoke alarm.