Warning As Fire Risks Increase In Winter

By May 27, 2021Helpful Tips, Safety

With the temperature dropping, the risk of fire in your apartment increases as Queenslander’s dust off the electric blankets, pull out the portable heaters and rev up the fireplace again to stay warm. The winter months typically see the highest number of structure fires compared to any other period of the year.

There are a many factors that can potentially add to the risk of fire in your apartment so it’s important to understand the hazards. In the majority of cases, accidental fires in your apartment or townhouse are completely preventable by being aware of the dangers as well as being a little extra cautious

The most common causes of house fires in Australia are:

  • Flammable items being left too close to heaters
  • Candles
  • Unattended cooking
  • Open fires
  • Careless smoking
  • Clothes dryers
  • Electric blankets

We have prepared some essential tips to help improve fire safety at your place this winter.

Heaters

Ensure everything is kept a metre from the heater.

  • Check your electric and gas heaters before you use them. If you suspect a fault have the item checked by a qualified repairer or replaced. Check all cords for fraying and damage. Plug heaters directly into wall sockets only.
  • Do not overload powerboards.
  • Ensure everything is kept a metre from the heater.
  • Install any new heaters and use as per manufacturer’s instructions.

Check your portable outdoor heaters before use and have serviced or replaced if required. Ensure that the area where you plan to use them is level, well ventilated and away from awnings and other combustible materials.

NEVER use any outdoor heating or cooking equipment inside your home including those that use ‘heat beads’ or LPG as a fuel source. This type of equipment is not suitable for indoor use and can lead to a build up of lethal gases which could be deadly.

Electric blankets

Folding your electric blanket can cause damage. Always roll it for storage, and check for any damage before use.

  • Test your electric blanket before use by laying it on top of your bed, feeling the internal wires for any abnormalities and inspecting cords/controls for damage. Turn it on for 5 minutes and then feel for any uneven hot spots. If you notice any of the above the electric blanket should be replaced.
  • Ready to pack your electric blanket away? Roll it for storage, folding can cause damage.

Electric blankets are not designed to be used while sleeping. Consider adding additional bedding to keep warm if needed.

Wheat Bags

Wheat bags can help pain, but they also have the potential to cause burns and fire if not used properly.

  • Check your wheat bags for signs of wear and tear or scorching. Replace if needed.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when heating, using and storing.

Wheat bags can easily ignite or burn if overheated and need to completely cool on a non-combustible surface before storing. They are only designed to be applied directly to the body and should never be used in bed or while sleeping.

Smoke alarms

Only working smoke alarms save lives.

  • Test that your smoke alarm/s are working. If not, change the batteries or replace the alarm.
  • Check the smoke alarm is in date. Smoke alarms have a lifespan of ten years.
  • Give the smoke alarm a vacuum, if you haven’t done so in the last six months, to remove dust and any insects.

Fireplaces and chimneys

Ensure your flues and chimneys are regularly cleaned. Place a fire screen in front of open fires to protect your family.

  • Have your chimney serviced prior to using it by a qualified tradesperson.
  • Purchase a fire screen if you do not own one. Fire screens should always be placed in front of fireplaces when in use.
  • Ensure your wood pile sits at least a metre away from the fireplace.
  • Choose a safe place to store matches and lighters where children cannot reach and that is at least a metre away from the fireplace.

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