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Be Safe, Feel Safe – guidance to help keep you safe this winter

Be safe feel safe
The aim of this booklet is to help you make good choices, helping you to stay safe this winter – with guidance from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

A message from your Police Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe, and Chief Fire Officer Jonathan Dyson: 

“We strongly encourage you to read the information provided and apply these prevention techniques to ensure your own safety and that of your families, neighbours and friends and to reach out to the support services listed depending on your needs.   

“We know that this is a challenging time for many people but preventing fire and other incidents remains a priority within North Yorkshire and York as we endeavour to keep you safe and feeling safe.” 

If you've been affected by crime

If you’ve been affected by crime, need help to cope and recover, or access to independent advice and emotional and practical support, contact:

North Yorkshire Supporting Victims service.


Portable heaters

Many people will be using devices that may not have been used for several years or they’ve had stored away for emergencies – such as when central heating has needed repair.

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with fuel burning heating.
  • Check that your portable heater is in good working order before switching it on.
  • Check that your heater is not subject to a product recall or repair.
  • Heaters must not be placed where they will block an escape route.
  • Plug electric heaters into a wall socket not an extension lead -they can easily be overloaded and cause fires.
  • Only use a heater in rooms they are designed to be used in.
  • Standard portable heaters (gas and electric) must not be used in shower or bathrooms.
  • Portable gas heaters must not be used in bedrooms and should only be used in well ventilated rooms.
  • Never install, repair or service appliances yourself. Make sure anyone who does is a competent tradesperson.
  • Make sure gas, paraffin and LPG cylinders are stored safely outside the home and out of direct sunlight. They should not be stored on balconies which can be important escape route for your home and a crucial entrance to your home for firefighters.
  • Make sure you change cylinders for portable heaters in a well-ventilated place and away sources of heat and ignition.

Buying a secondhand heater

  • Avoid second-hand heaters but if you need to buy one check it closely for damage-if in doubt avoid it.
  • Make sure it is made by a manufacturer you recognise and if the seller cannot provide the instruction manual look online and download a copy. This will ensure you know how to use the heater correctly and can reduce the risk of fire.

Buying a new heater

  • Make sure you buy from recognised manufacturers and retailers. This will reduce the risk of buying a counterfeit and unsafe heater.
  • Register your products with the manufacturer or on the AMDEA website. This will mean in the event of a recall or repair the manufacturer can easily get in touch with you

Solid fuel heating

  • Ensure you burn the correct fuel in open fires and wood burning stoves. Burning other materials can cause toxic fumes in your home and can increase the risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • You must not reopen and use an old fireplace without a professional doing the work. The chimney is likely to be unsafe and can lead to a fire and/or carbon monoxide leaking into your home or even your neighbour’s home.

Outdoor heaters

  • You must only use heaters that are designed for indoor use. Outdoor heaters must not be used indoors. They can produce a lot of heat which would be a fire risk in the confined space of a house, but they also produce carbon monoxide which can be fatal.

When using your heating

  • Don’t sit too close to a heater, it could set fire to your clothes or chair. Check your loved ones are using their heaters safely. This is also especially important if you or family members regularly use emollient products which can make clothing and soft furnishings more flammable.
  • Never use heaters or open fires to dry clothes. If you need to dry clothes in the same room as a heater or open fire, ensure they are placed well away from the heat to reduce the risk of fire.

Electric Blankets

  • Store electric blankets flat, rolled up or loosely folded to prevent damaging the internal wiring.
  • Unplug blankets before you get into bed unless it has a thermostat control for safe all-night use.
  • Never use an electric blanket if you have an air flow pressure relief mattress or use emollient creams. Ask for non-flammable alternatives instead.
  • If your blanket gets wet, don’t use it and never switch it on to dry it.
  • Do not buy second-hand electric blankets.
  • Check regularly for wear and tear and replace at least every 10 years.

Gas Safety Checks

Many homeowners may have avoided having their gas safety checks for boilers and appliances due to the cost. For safety reasons it is important you have a gas safety check.

Anyone who is a tenant should have an annual gas safety check for any fixed appliances. This must be done by your landlord. If your landlord is failing to provide this, you should report this to the local authority.

For more advice on safer heating

Visit: https://www.northyorksfire.gov.uk/your-safety/safe-at-home/heating-your-home/


  • It might be tempting to use a camping stove or barbecue indoors but remember these products must only be used outdoors. Indoors they are a carbon monoxide and fire risk.
  • Barbecues, including disposable must not be used on a balcony. They pose a carbon monoxide and fire risk.
  • Whether you have a gas or charcoal barbecue remember they must never by used indoors. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Electrical safety

Due to high energy costs we appreciate that people on tariffs will run appliances overnight in an attempt to reduce bills. Our advice is where it is practically possible, people should avoid leaving appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers or dishwashers running unattended overnight.

  • Register any new appliances with the manufacturer or on the AMDEA website. This will mean in the event of a recall or repair the manufacturer can easily get in touch with you.
  • Don’t overload your plug sockets as this can lead to overheating.
  • Clean any and all filters regularly as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you think there might be a problem with your appliance, unplug it and contact the retailer, manufacturer or a qualified repair technician as appropriate.


  • Keep matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Don’t forget to extinguish candles when unattended and before you go to bed.
  • If you’re having to use candles for light, make sure you put them in a suitable holder and away from materials that may catch fire such as curtains and other fabrics.
  • When using candles don’t forget how many you have lit. Never leave lit candles unattended and make sure they are all out completely at night or when you go out.
  • If you’re using candles more, you may have more lighters and matches to hand. Don’t forget to keep them out of reach of children.
  • Lit candles out of reach of children and pets. Make sure they can’t be knocked over by children or pets Lit candles can easily set fire to loose clothing or hair.
  • Remember if clothing should catch fire Stop, Drop and Roll.

Fire detection and smoke alarms

Make sure you have a working smoke alarm in the rooms you use most.

In your home

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service can provide you with and install smoke detectors as part of our Safe & Well visits. The visit involves us coming to your home to offer fire safety advice, including:

  • How to reduce and prevent fires
  • Looking at any possible fire risks in your home
  • Information about bedtime routines to help keep you safe at night
  • Helping you to think about an escape plan.

Rented accommodation

Since the start of October 2022 the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms regulations came into force, this means that from that date landlords must

  1. Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation. This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015.
  2. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers).
  3. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty. The requirements are enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

Help and support

Safe & Well visits

QR codeIf you would like a Safe & Well visit:

Warm and Well

Warm & Well in North Yorkshire raises awareness of the impact of cold homes on our health and wellbeing, offers practical solutions to reduce fuel poverty, and supports people and communities to stay warm and well in their homes.

  • Tel: 01609 767 555
  • Email: wnw@northyorkslca.org.uk
  • Web: https://www.warmandwell.org.uk/

York Energy Advice

York Energy Advice offer free support on energy issues to anyone in York on a low income, aged 50 or over, or experiencing a long term physical or mental health condition or disability.

Get in touch with their friendly team for:

  • Advice on managing energy bills
  • Tips on reducing energy use to save money on bills
  • Installation of energy-saving measures

Information on other services in York e.g. debt advice, insulation grants and more, is available:

  • Web: https://yorkenergyadvice.org.uk/
  • Phone: 01904 922249
  • Email: info@yorkenergyadvice.org.uk
  • SMS: 07418 364631

Cost of living support

There are a wide variety of support schemes and organisations in North Yorkshire which may be able to help or advise if you are struggling to pay for essentials.

NHS helping you stay well this winter

Some important information from the NHS to help you stay well this winter.

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