Commissioner's blog: Warm up safely this winter
Winter is here, so consumers are being reminded to stay safe when using products like hot water bottles, which cause serious burns to hundreds of Australians each year.
One of the most recent cases involved a 20-year-old man from Melbourne who was treated in hospital for second and third degree burns to his hands and thighs when a hot water bottle burst on his lap.
A reason why hot water bottles can pose a safety risk is that the rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) they’re made from can break or deteriorate over time, so it’s important to regularly check for wear and tear.
Only ever use hot tap water, never boiling water, and avoid contact with the skin once filled by using a fitted cover or wrap. They should also never be used for a baby, nor left on one body part for longer than 20 minutes.
It’s worth checking the Product Safety site for recalls – for example one range is currently being recalled due to concerns the stopper could leak or the seams could split.
Should you use electric blankets, check that cords haven’t frayed and the blanket still adequately covers any wiring. Also remember to turn them off before getting into bed, and seek advice from your health practitioner before using one if you are pregnant or have diabetes.
Elsewhere in the home, it’s important to regularly check your smoke alarms are still functioning and make sure the chimney is clean and properly ventilated before using a fireplace.
Children should never be left unattended around candles and be protected from the dangers of button batteries by ensuring electronic devices have secure battery compartments.
Multiple children are admitted to hospital every year with burns sustained from their clothing catching fire, so it’s important to keep them away from open heat sources, like fireplaces and heaters.
Be aware that a combination of heavy rainfall, cold temperatures and heaters can lead to mould growth, which may cause health problems. Any mould needs to be removed and the area kept ventilated to avoid regrowth.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection