Goring pensioner’s wheat bag catches fire


An elderly woman has had a very lucky escape after a wheat bag burned through her bedding while she was sleeping.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called to the detached house on Rose Walk in Goring at 9.50am this morning (November 27) after a lady, in her 90s, accidentally overheated her wheat bag causing it to ignite.

Worthing watch manager and incident commander at the scene, Adam Condell, said: “The lady had placed the wheat bag in her bed before going to sleep but woke in the middle of the night because she was feeling hot. Thankfully, at that point she removed the wheat bag and put it in her bathtub.

“What she didn’t realise is that the bag, which had been overheated in the microwave, had already been smouldering and had scorched through her bedding. It later ignited in the bath.”

Fortunately, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service had carried out a Home Safety Visit in February this year and the lady was protected by a Lifeline System with a specialist ‘Firelink’ smoke alarm. This meant that an operator at a 24-hour monitoring centre was automatically alerted to the fire and could place an immediate 999 call to the Fire Service.

The lady, who was uninjured, was given a precautionary check at the scene by paramedics, but did not go to hospital.

Adam added: “This lady has had an incredibly lucky escape. Wheat bags can continue to build heat once removed from the microwave and then start to smoulder; when they are in contact with bedding a fire can often spread quickly. We’d advise people against using them in bed.

“Wheat bags are popular especially among the elderly but this is a stark reminder of how dangerous they can be if overheated. All wheat bags bought in shops should have manufacturer’s instructions with recommended maximum heating times – it’s really important that people read and follow those instructions.”

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service offer the following simple safety tips for anyone using wheat bags:


• Only buy wheat bags with clear heating instructions

• Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions

• Watch for overuse: a smell of burning or charring

• Leave to cool in a safe area and on a non-combustible surface like a kitchen sink


• Leave the microwave unattended when heating

• Overheat (recommended maximum is 3 minutes for most manufacturers)

• Use wheat bags as bed warmers

• Reheat the bag until it has completely cooled, which may be two hours

• Store the bag until it is cold

• Use the bag if you see any evidence of problems

To find out if you, or a relative or neighbour, may be eligible for a Home Safety Visit call 0845 872 9719 or click here

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