With the increased use of heaters, electric blankets and other electrical equipment, the risk of house fires is often greatest during winter. Fire protection specialist Wormald is urging householders to be extra vigilant during the colder months and ensure they are adequately protected against fire.
According to Garry Kwok from Wormald, working smoke alarms are an essential line of defence and are vital for early detection of a fire. "Every household in Australia should have working smoke alarms in place, with at least one smoke alarm installed between the bedrooms and remainder of the home, and on any other storey within the home. To ensure they are kept in proper working order, smoke alarms should be tested once a month and batteries replaced annually."
Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are essential tools for defending a home against a fire. Householders should be aware of where the fire protection equipment is located within their home and how to use it should a fire occur. A fire escape plan should also be prepared and practiced regularly.
To help minimise the risk of fire in the home, householders should run through a simple mental checklist before leaving the house or going to bed. There are also a number of steps that should be taken at the beginning of winter to help minimise risk.
1. Ensure heaters are placed a minimum of one metre away from anything that could potentially burn. Be sure to switch off at the appliance as well as on the wall, turning of the power outlet.
2. Check smoke alarms once a month to ensure they are working correctly. Change the batteries every 12 months and make sure there is at least one smoke alarm installed between the bedrooms and remainder of the home, and on any other storey within the home.
3. Ensure all heating equipment is clean and in proper working order. Inspect electrical cords and replace if cracked or damaged.
4. Switch off electrical blankets before going to bed.
5. Extinguish any candles before going to bed or leaving the room.
6. When cooking, don't leave cooking appliances unattended. If you need to leave the room for more than a few minutes, switch off the stove or oven.
7. If you have a fireplace, use a mesh guard to protect against flying sparks and embers from an open fire. Ensure the fire has been completely smothered before leaving the room or house.