London Fire Brigade

Firefighters issue blaze warning for ‘coldest week of winter’

07 February 2018

We have published new figures today which show that six people lost their lives and 185 people were injured by fires caused by portable heaters during the last five years.

With this week set to be the coldest of the winter so far, we are concerned that the number of fires could rise. Fires typically start when bedding, blankets or clothes are put too close to heaters.

There have been 568 fires in London involving either an electric fire or a gas heater - equivalent to  approximately 113  fires per year – since 1 January 2013.

Dan Daly, the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said: "The temperatures have plummeted this week  and we are urging people to take extra care if they are using additional heating appliances to stay warm due to the very real risk of people being injured by heater fires.

“Fires involving heaters can be easily prevented if people take some sensible, common sense precautions. 

“Steps like keeping flammable items, such as curtains, blankets and furniture well away from heaters can make all the difference. It’s also important not to sit too close to them, especially if you’re likely to fall asleep.”

We are also asking people to look out for elderly and vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours - if you know someone who is using a heater, please make sure they follow our advice and know how to stay safe. We also offer free home fire safety visits where firefighters visit people in their homes and provide bespoke advice, based on their household and lifestyle, to minimise the risk of a blaze.

Tips to stay safe

We have issued three top winter safety tips:

  1. Keep heaters away from clothes, curtains and furniture
  2. Don’t put anything on the heater or use it to dry or warm clothes
  3. Secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over, or fit wall-mounted heaters

You can read about how to stay safe using heaters here.