Summer might mean bush fire season in Australia but nearly two thirds of the nation’s home fires occur in winter as people crank up the heating and spend more time indoors.
And with more than enough sparks to put out already, Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) leaves no stone – or ball of lint – unturned when offering tips to strata dwellers eager to keep their homes fire-free during the cooler months.
Each year FRNSW teams attend around 4,500 residential fires so when it comes to fire prevention there’s little this organisation doesn’t know. It says the golden rule is to keep everything, including yourself, at least one metre away from a heater.
Likewise, you should never leave your heater unattended when there is no one at home in your apartment, townhouse or villa.
The service also says that if you have the slightest suspicion of a fault, get your heater serviced, replace missing parts or purchase a new one as soon as possible. Failing to do so can cause hazardous and potentially deadly damage to your and your loved one’s health.
To help minimise the risk of fire you should always keep a close eye on young children in rooms with heaters, FRNSW says.
Cook, don’t burn
Nearly half (45%) of all house fires in Australia originate in the kitchen. The key to preventing food becoming fire is never leave the kitchen unattended when you’ve got something on the boil or bake, the service says.
Dry, don’t fry clothes
Clothes dryers come into full effect when winter’s cold and damp sets in.
Lint is a surprisingly high source of house fires.
FRNSW says you should always clean lint from the filter before and after using your dryer, taking care to ensure you never leave it on while leaving your home.
It is also worthwhile ensuring there is adequate air flow around the dryer to prevent any risk of it overheating.
Prevent electrical fires
Unsafe use and faults in electrical appliances are the cause of 40% of house fires in Australia.
Here’s some sure-fire tips to ensure you get no char from your charge:
- Don’t overload power points and power boards
- Regularly check electrical leads and extension cords for damage and faults
- Never use faulty electrical leads or appliances
- Roll don’t fold your electric blanket when storing it
- Before going to bed turn off all electrical appliances at the power point
- Turn off electric blankets and heaters when you’re not at home or before going to bed.
Have an escape plan
Identify and practise your escape plan with your family, taking into account the special needs of everyone in your household, including young children, elderly family members and any pets you may have living with you.
FRNSW says once your escape plan is finalised, decide on a meeting spot, preferably one out in the open and clear from any buildings or structures. In the event of a fire, it says, try to enact your plan as soon as possible while also having a back-up in the event your preferred escape route is blocked.