Every year, the CFA in Victoria attends approximately 3000 house fires and Fire and Rescue NSW attends some 4500 residential fires. While there are no national statistics to confirm the number of fires that have occurred in the cooler months, Fire and Rescue NSW estimates around 30 per cent of the fires its crews attend occur during winter.
“With many households pulling out heaters and electric blankets that have been stored away gathering dust for the last six months, the number of winter fires is unsurprising,” said Darryn Bull from ADT Security. “However, most cases of household fires are accidental and can be very easily prevented by taking extra care around the home.”
To help keep your home and loved ones safe from the risk of fire this winter, ADT Security recommends these simple yet essential tips.
Dust off heaters and don’t place anything too close
Heaters can pose a real safety threat if they are not properly dusted off before use. If enough dust has accumulated on the heating elements while being stored away over spring and summer, they can become a fire hazard and ignite once the heater warms up.
Make sure heaters are cleaned before use and also check that the electrical cords are in good condition.
Remember not to place anything closer than a metre to the heater, and never drape wet clothes directly over the surface of a heater. If you’re using a heater to dry laundry, place items on a drying rack at least a metre away from the heater and never leave the heater unattended.
Exercise caution when using electric blankets
It’s also critical to check electric blankets for dust and frayed electrical cords each winter. These blankets should only be used to warm the bed and then turned off before going to sleep.
Avoid placing heavy items on top of the electric blankets and don’t fold them away like regular blankets as this could damage their internal wires. Instead, they should be loosely rolled or hung up.
Take care when cooking
Kitchen fires are the biggest cause of house fires with complacency and inaction identified as the highest risk factors. Kitchen fires can be better avoided by simply being more vigilant when cooking.
Turn handles of pots and pans away from the body, avoid wearing loose-sleeved tops that hang down and could potentially catch fire from a gas flame, and never leave cooking unattended.
Keep an eye on candles
Even the smallest of candles can be a potential fire hazard. If lighting candles around the house, don’t place them near curtains or flammable materials; always place them
in candleholders and ensure they are extinguished when leaving the room. Also, be vigilant if children are present while candles are burning and make sure matches and lighters are kept out of reach.
Don’t overload power boards
Faulty electrical appliances or overloaded power boards can cause fires. Plugging too many appliances into a power board or using extension cords can lead to overheating.
It’s important to consider how much power electrical outlets can safely handle.
Damaged electrical cords can cause appliances to overheat and power outlets to short circuit, so check power cords regularly and replace appliances accordingly.
Integrate a smoke alarm into your security system
It is mandatory for households to have a working smoke alarm. For extra protection and peace of mind, consider integrating smoke detectors into a monitored home security system. An integrated smoke detector can alert residents to a house fire regardless of whether they are home or away.