Warning after common winter item 'explodes in microwave'

·News Reporter
·2-min read

They might keep many of us warm on a cold winter’s night but firefighters are warning about a common household item which is being linked to “fires and burns”.

Edithvale Fire Brigade responded to a fire in Aspendale Gardens, in Melbourne’s southeast, last week.

A resident in the home had placed a wheat heat pack in a microwave which caught fire filling the residence with smoke.

Luckily, the fire was contained to just the microwave.

A wheat bag is pictured burnt, charred and on fire.
Firefighters were called to a home last week after this wheat bag burst into flames. Source: Country Fire Association

Captain Graham Fountain said “it could have been a lot worse”.

“A lesson learned from this incident was that the wheat bag was more than a year old and was being heated for a long duration,” he said.

“The smoke also did not reach the nearest smoke alarm in the home, so we encouraged the homeowner to improve their smoke alarm placement by installing them in recommended locations.”

A wheat heat pack is pictured.
Firies are warning people need to read the instructions on their heat packs and make sure they dispose of them if they become burnt or are past their used by date. Source: Big W

Country Fire Association’s advice on wheat bags

  • Only buy wheat bags with clear heating instructions.

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Do not allow wheat bags to become trapped under blankets, pillows or cushions.

  • Do not reheat bags until they are fully cooled.

  • Leave heat bags in non-combustible areas such as the kitchen sink.

  • If a bag seems charred or damaged, wait for it to cool then dispose of it.

  • Always check the shelf-life of a wheat bag via the manufacturer’s instructions.

Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said it comes as a reminder for people not to overheat wheat bags. The bags, which come in different sizes, are used for warmth and also to treat injuries.

“Wheat bags are a popular choice for keeping people warm, but they have been linked to some fires and burns,” he said.

“Constant use can result in the reduction of the moisture content of the wheat, causing it to overheat and result in a fire or burns.

He told 7News there has been “a number of fatalities” linked to wheat bags.

“Our warning is: they can keep you warm but they can be quite dangerous,” he said.

“They can get super hot.”

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