Hot water bottles and wheat bags provide great comfort for expecting mums in relieving backaches and painful ankles, but a few simple safety precautions are required.
Hot water bottles look harmless enough but they can cause serious burns or scalding if they are faulty, unsafe or used incorrectly.
Burns can occur while filling the bottle, when the bottle bursts or leaks, or when a bottle filled with hot water directly contacts the skin.
Rubber products perish so you need to replace your bottle regularly – each winter or every second year, depending on how much you use it and how well you store it.
Tips on safe use of hot water bottles
- Inspect your hot water bottle carefully. Throw it out if there are any signs of leaks or if it looks cracked, damaged or brittle. A simple way to check for leaks is to put cold water in the bottle first.
- Avoid injuries by waiting until hot water has cooled down a bit before filling the bottle and be careful not to overfill it.
- Laying, resting or putting pressure on a hot water bottle may cause it to burst. For this reason, take the bottle out of bed before you climb in.
- When relieving aches and pains use a cover or wrap the bottle in a towel to prevent direct contact with the skin. Do not leave the bottle on one part of the body for too long as burns can occur gradually.
Using wheat bags or heat packs safely
Microwavable wheat bags or heat packs are another winter favourite, which also come with a couple of safety warnings.
Wheat bags can be a fire hazard if used incorrectly. They have been linked to fires when placed under bedding and can catch fire in the microwave if heated for too long.
- Do not use wheat bags in confined spaces that can trap heat, such as under blankets or on bedding.
- Minimise risks by buying wheat bags that come with clear heating instructions. Be cautious of wheat bags bought at markets and craft stalls; if they do not have heating instructions, do not buy them.
- Always follow the heating instructions and be careful when re-heating the bag.
- As soon as your wheat bag starts to smell burnt or charred, or if you notice this smell when heating it, let it cool down in the kitchen sink before disposal.
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