Hot safety tips for consumers in cold weather

While many of us have already hauled out the winter woollies, electric blankets and hot water bottles, the first official day of winter is the perfect time to check they’re still safe to use.

Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said a number of winter warmer products may pose a safety risk if they are old, worn or not used properly.

“As with any product, but particularly products that could cause scalds or burns, consumers should always follow the user guide or instructions carefully,” he said.

“Electric blankets, hot water bottles, heat (or wheat) packs and children’s sleepwear are just some items used regularly in winter that can pose a risk.

Mr Soulio said hot water bottles and other heat packs are often the culprit when it comes to safety risks.

“Each year more than 200 people in Australia are treated for serious burns caused while using hot water bottles,” he said. “Use hot tap water — not boiling water — to fill your hot water bottle and replace it as soon as it starts to look cracked or worn.

“If you’re using wheat bags or other heat packs, check that they come with clear heating instructions attached to the product and allow them cool completely before reheating.

“If you notice a burning smell, you’ve probably overheated it — let the wheat bag cool down completely then dispose of it.”

More innocuous products like pyjamas can also be a safety concern.

“Every year there are multiple admissions to hospital emergency departments of children suffering burns sustained from their clothing catching fire,” Mr Soulio said.

“Even children’s clothing and nightwear with a ‘low fire danger’ label is still flammable, so always keep children away from open heat sources, like fireplaces and heaters.

“Always check electric blankets for signs of wear and tear before use and seek advice from your health practitioner about using one if you are pregnant or have diabetes.”

Consumers can check if a product has been recalled for safety reasons by visiting Product Safety Australia at

Want to know more? See winter safety tips on the Consumer and Business Services (CBS) website at