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Wheat bag fire hazards

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As the cooler weather sets in, the ACCC is warning Australians about the dangers of using wheat bags as a source of warmth and has released tips to use them safely.

Wheat bags, also known as wheat packs, heat bags or microwavable personal warmers, are typically fabric bags filled with wheat or another grain which are intended to be heated in a microwave.

Wheat bags are a popular choice for keeping the bed or body warm, but they have been linked to fires in Australia – so they need to be used with care.

Hazards

These products are typically fabric bags filled with wheat or another grain which are intended to be heated in a microwave. However, the bag can catch fire in the microwave if it is heated for too long. This is a particular concern with wheat packs that don’t have clear heating instructions.

The ACCC is also aware of cases where wheat bags have caught fire after being put under bedding.

Wheat bags safety tips

  • Only buy wheat bags that come with clear heating instructions.
  • Always carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Never overheat wheat bags in the microwave.
  • Be especially cautious with wheat bags bought at markets, fairs, craft stalls and similar sellers. This also applies to home-made wheat bags. Make sure they come with heating instructions.
  • Don’t use wheat bags in confined spaces that can trap heat, such as under blankets or on bedding.
  • Leave wheat bags to cool in a safe area and on a non-combustible surface (such as a kitchen sink) and don't reheat the bag until it has completely cooled, which may take around two hours.
  • As soon as your wheat bag starts to smell burned or charred, or if you notice this smell when heating it, let it cool down in the kitchen sink and then throw it away.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has also released a winter warning about the correct and safe use of wheat or grain-filled heat packs.

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