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Standard fact sheet.
Large print fact sheet.

Heat packs 

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.

Heat packs can cause fire and burns

A heat pack can be a fire risk when it is:

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

Tips for safer use

The following tips will help you to use a heat pack safely.

Heat packs should have clear heating instructions

Always follow the directions provided.

Lay the pack out evenly in the microwave

This will help prevent hot spots.

Do not overheat the pack

Never heat the pack for longer than specified on the manufacturer’s instructions.

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 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.

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. 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.