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West Midlands Fire Service offers safety advice on heating homes during the winter

People's lives are at risk due to dangerous methods of heating homes Photo: PA

West Midlands Fire Service is working alongside the Birmingham and Black Country Community Foundation, to help ensure that people struggling to pay fuel bills remain safe.

The BBCCF's 'Surviving Winter Appeal' is urging people who can afford to part with their winter fuel allowance to donate it to those in need, to help stop them looking for alternative methods.

West Midlands Fire Service have offered advice in staying safe when warming up for winter:

  • Make sure any old heating equipment you want to use is in good condition.
  • Buy electric heaters from reputable shops and ensure they conform to British safety standards.
  • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture.
  • Do not dry clothes on, or close to, heaters or fireguards.
  • Supervise children around electric heaters and open fires.
  • If you use an open fire, make sure the chimney is in good condition, is swept regularly and that you use a fireguard.
  • Check electric blankets conform to the appropriate safety standards. Blankets more than ten years old, or which are showing signs of danger should be replaced.
  • Candles are not a source of heat.

The BBCCF estimates that 700,000 homes in the West Midlands are in winter fuel poverty.

Last year the appeal raised more than £20,000 and helped over 200 households in Birmingham and the Black Country. This year the charity is aiming to raise even more.