Two Australian states have this week issued warnings concerning potential dangers posed by ethanol fueled fireplaces, following a number of serious burn injuries sustained this winter.

Both the Queensland and New South Wales Departments of Fair Trading are cautioning consumers to be safe around fireplaces and heating appliances as the country reaches the middle of winter.

“Ethanol fireplaces are advertised as easy, smokeless and eco-friendly ways to keep warm, but some models have an open flame which can be difficult to see,” said Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie.

“Queensland Health has had several recent cases of explosions occurring because users have mistakenly believed the flame has gone out and tried to refuel or move it.

“Families’ safety is paramount and, following discussions with Queensland Health, I have issued a formal safety warning notice to alert consumers to the potential danger of these products.

Bleijie and joined with New South Wales Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres to issue a guide to staying safe with heaters products this winter. Retailers are advised to share these tips with heating appliance customers:

  • Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.
  • Keep combustible materials such as clothes or curtains at least one metre from heat sources.
  • Supervise children at all times around heat sources.
  • Make sure a fireplace has had plenty of time to cool before attempting to move or refuel it, and never throw anything combustible into a fireplace.
  • Store fuel in a separate room to the fireplace.
  • Never leave any heat sources unattended while in use. Switch off heaters and extinguish fireplaces before leaving the house or going to sleep.
  • Have an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm.

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