Did you know that Fire and Rescue in NSW attend approximately 4,500 residential fires every year! And with the colder seasons slowly catching up to us, it is time to pull out the heaters and dust off the electric blankets. Having been in storage and gathering cobwebs for a solid six months it is not surprising these items are the highest cause of household fires. With that being said there are a few things you can do around the home to ensure you are not one of the unfortunate ones to be visited by the fire brigade this season.
Here are a few considerations to keep you and your loved ones safe this Winter:
First things first, heaters. Dust it off!
Heaters can pose a real safety risk if not dusted off properly first. If enough dust has accumulated on the heating elements whilst being stored away over the hotter months, they can become flammable and ignite once the heater warms up. Remember also not to place anything closer than a metre to your heater or drape wet clothes directly over the surface of the heater. If you are using a drying rack place the rack again at least a metre from the heat and do not leave the heater unattended.
When it starts to get really cold we break out the electric blankets. It is important when you get these blankets out of storage that you check for any frayed electrical cords. Electric blankets should only be used to warm the bed and then be turned off before going to sleep. Avoid placing heavy items on top of them. When it comes to the end of season do not pack them away as you would a normal blanket, instead loosely roll or hang them to avoid damaging their internal wires.
Smoke alarms are the most crucial item to have in the home, especially when it comes to fire safety. We all know this and have been taught from a young age, but it is more often than not we get a bit slack when it comes to testing them, changing the batteries and ensuring we have a sufficient number installed in the house. Without a working smoke alarm you are four times more likely to die in a house fire – shocking but true!
Smoke alarms come in different types but are a simple way to make the home safer. Battery-operated smoke detectors are common in older homes. These should have the batteries changed once a year but be tested every 6 months (this is often a case of just pressing the ‘test’ button).
Most people are misinformed about how long smoke detectors last. They need to be replaced every 10 years, batteries every year but the actual detector every 10 years even if you believe it is fine, err on the side of caution and replace it anyway.
When it comes to deciding how many to have in the house and where to place them refer to your State regulations. Each State has different requirements especially when it comes to a new build or a renovation.
Finally, take a few moments to look around your house to see any other potential hazards and make notes. Do you have candles? The open flame can ignite anything within reach! Are you taking care when cooking? Turn the pots and pans away from your body. Are you overloading power boards? Plugging too many appliances into a power board or using an extension cord can lead to overheating. Does your house have an extinguisher or a fire blanket? Perhaps make sure it does, do you have an evacuation plan should the worst happen? This doesn’t have to be elaborate, take a few minutes now, create a plan that works for you and your family then rest easy through winter knowing your are safe and equipped.
If you have any questions about fire safety in your home or installing new smoke alarms give us a call.