Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have urged people to take care when using portable heaters during the Winter after one sparked a fire that left members of a local family hospitalized.

Fire investigators said the blaze in Telford was started by a portable halogen heater setting light to the settee it was placed on.

Fortunately, Rebecca Coffey and her partner Ian were able to lower their three children out of a window to safety and the young mum, who suffered a broken leg, and her six-week old baby are said to be recovering well in hospital.

This is the just the latest incident of house fires being started by portable heaters with more than 700 such fires recorded across the UK in 2011.

Phil Clarke, Group Manager of the brigade's fire prevention department warned: "Portable heaters can be dangerous. People must follow the instructions and get them serviced and properly maintained. Always have a working smoke alarm in your home which costs just £5."

With National Electric Fire Safety Week starting on January 23, Shropshire FRS have issued a set of guidelines for home safety over Winter:

"Gas cylinders should not be stored in cellars or basements because there could be a build up of gas if there is a leak. They should be changed outside or in a well ventilated area with gas and paraffin heaters only used in well ventilated areas. Don't put them on uneven surfaces, keep children and pets away, and don't put them near furniture, bedding or curtains.

"Unplug electric heaters when you leave a room or go to bed, ensure a permanent safety guard is fitted, and never use flammable materials such as aerosols or cleaning fluids near heaters.

"They should be positioned with the back of the heater against the wall and facing into a room and should not be moved when lit. Don't dry clothes on heaters and do not stand too close as clothes can ignite easily."

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