Certain heat packs have caused burns and several fires due to incorrect use, or poor product design or manufacturing. This has resulted in the voluntary Australian Standard AS/NZS 5116 being created, which applies to heat packs that contain organic material such as wheat.
Heat packs are commonly used for pain relief. If used on small children or babies for this purpose, the heat pack should be tested on an adult to prevent contact burns.
A heat pack should never be used to heat bedding. This is because the heat becomes trapped, which may cause the organic material inside the pack to spontaneously combust.
Be aware of the potential harm caused by these products and how to use them safely.
When buying a heat pack, ask for one that has been produced according to the voluntary safety standard.
A heat pack can be a fire risk when it is:
The following tips will help you to use a heat pack safely.
Always follow the directions provided.
This will help prevent hot spots.
Never heat the pack for longer than specified on the manufacturer’s instructions.
This has little effect in preventing a fire but can result in scalding.
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.
Bedding can prevent heat from escaping the pack, causing it to start a fire.
The product should be cooled first on a non-combustible surface, like the kitchen sink.
If you notice a burned or charred smell from your wheat bag or that it is deteriorating or scorched, don't keep it. Leave it in the kitchen sink to cool down. After, throw it away. Also replace your heat pack after prolonged usage.
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. This allows you to have greater confidence in these heat packs.
The Standard, AS/NZS 5116:2016 - Microwavable heat packs - Wheat and other organic filling materials, can be accessed through the Standards Australia website. Suppliers and retailers are strongly advised to adopt this Standard.