Heat packs and hot water bottles

Heat packs can cause burns and fires if they’re used incorrectly, have poor product design or bad manufacturing. You should be aware of the potential harm caused by these products and how to use them safely.

Heat packs can be dangerous

A heat pack can be a fire risk when it’s:

  • overheated in the microwave. Monitor heating and do not heat it for longer than what’s instructed.
  • reheated before it has fully cooled
  • used to warm bedding, due to bedding material trapping its heat.

Tips for safer use

Here are some tips to help you to use a heat pack safely:

  • Heat packs should have clear heating instructions. Do not overheat - Always follow the directions provided.
  • Lay the pack out evenly in the microwave - This will help prevent hot spots.
  • Do not put a glass of water in the microwave with the heat pack - This has little effect in preventing a fire but can result in scalding.
  • Do not drop the heat pack directly onto exposed skin - This may cause contact burns especially in the very young and the elderly. Caution should be used if the heat pack is also a plush snuggle toy.
  • Do not use as a bed warmer - Bedding can prevent heat from escaping the pack, causing it to start a fire.
  • Do not reheat or store the pack away until it is completely cool - The product should be cooled first on a non-combustible surface, like the kitchen sink.
  • Monitor for signs of deterioration - If you notice a burned or charred smell from your wheat bag or if it’s deteriorating or scorched, don't keep it. Leave it in the kitchen sink to cool down and then throw it away. Replace your heat pack when needed.
  • Ask if a heat pack meets safety standards

To reduce the risk of burn injuries and house fires from heat pack, we joined Standards Australia to launch a voluntary safety standard. The Standard is for heat packs that contain organic filling and include products aimed at children, such as plush toys with a removable heat pack. It specifies safety conditions for the heating instructions, design and manufacture of a heat pack. Suppliers and retailers are strongly advised to adopt this Standard.

The Standard, AS/NZS 5116:2016 - Microwavable heat packs - Wheat and other organic filling materials, can be purchased through the SAI Global website.

If you become aware of an unsafe situation or item, whether or not anyone has been injured, you should alert the supplier about the issue. You can also report it by lodging a complaint on our website or via the Product Safety Australia website.

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