Warning regarding microwaveable wheat bags and appeal to ‘Look after each other this Christmas’ following tragic death in Rhos on SeaPosted
The Head of Fire Safety at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has issued an appeal to residents to ‘Look after each other this Christmas’ after the cause of the fire in Rhos on Sea last week has been confirmed as involving a microwaveable wheat bag.
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service was called to the property on Marston drive at 8.34hrs last Wednesday, 6th December by North Wales Police after they received a report regarding concern for the safety of the resident. Police officers confirmed there were signs of fire at the properly and discovered the deceased, believed to be in his 80s, in a bedroom. One fire appliance from Colwyn Bay was mobilised to the scene along with fire officers who undertook a joint investigation into the incident with North Wales Police.
Paul Kay, Head of Fire Safety, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “My deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of the gentleman who passed away in this tragic incident last week.
“The cause of the fire appears to be a microwaveable wheat bag which had been placed under the bedclothes on the gentleman’s bed.
“Microwavable Wheat Bags are often used to provide heat to painful areas on the body and often have an aromatic smell.
“What we have to remember is that a product that absorbs and stores heat in this way is a potential fire risk if not used properly.
“If a wheat bag is insulated after heating – for example under bedclothes, it may ignite.”
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is also issuing the following advice around the use of microwaveable wheat bags:
- Buy wheat bags that include a British Safety Standard/CE/UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) and have clear instructions from the manufacturer
- Always follow manufacturer’s instructions
- Never overheat the wheat bag
- Don’t reheat the bag until it has completely cooled - which may take up to two hours.
- Never leave the microwave unattended when heating the wheat bag
- Never store the wheat bag away until it has fully cooled
- Leave the wheat bag to cool in a safe area and on a non-combustible surface - like a kitchen sink
- Don’t use the bag if damaged in any way
- Check for signs of overuse, such as smells of burning or charring, and discard if found
- Never use a wheat bag as a bed-warmer
Paul added: “Consideration should be given to those with dementia, short term memory issues or those under the influence of drugs and alcohol to refrain from using these items at all.
“Also, please consider if family, carers or other professionals involved should be informed of this advice.
“This was of course a tragic accident, and for me, as well as highlighting the potential dangers many will not have considered, it also brings to the fore of us all coming together to look after each other, linking into our festive safety campaign’ ‘Look after each other this Christmas’.
“This gentleman did not have smoke alarms – and the best thing any of us can do for potentially vulnerable family, friends and neighbours is to ensure they have working smoke alarms fitted. These alarms can give an early warning which could allow them to escape safely. By starting a conversation about staying safe from fire, you could also help highlight any dangerous habits they may have.”
Staff from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been in the Rhos on Sea area this week, offering free safe and well checks to residents in the area.