Now a good time to prepare for summer fire risks

Spring is an opportunity for all Australians to start preparing their homes against the dangerous fire risks that come in the summer months. A good starting point is this weekend on Sunday, when clocks will be wound forward in participating states and territories for daylight saving. Residents in non-participating states and territories should also use this weekend to start their preparations.

A home’s summer fire safety plan for both indoors and outdoors is a smart way to reduce the risk of fire and be ready for the unexpected. Inside your home and garage, regularly checking and cleaning your smoke alarms will keep them in a good working condition, and maintain their smoke detecting performance.

Check smoke alarms when pressing their test buttons weekly. This should sound the alarms and make their LED indicators flash. If your smoke alarms are older than 10 years they must be replaced. If the battery hasn’t been changed in a year then replace it.

Keep things clean

Dust build-up in electrical appliances such as smoke alarms, air conditioners, televisions and computers can affect their performance and becomes a fire risk in severe situations.

Dust enters through air vents of electrical appliances which can cause them to malfunction. Where there is an excess of dust and heat, electrical appliances can catch fire.

Using a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust from your appliances and smoke alarms will help prevent the risk of fire and improve their longevity.

Another fire safety tip is to check all electrical cabling and outlets. If cables are frayed or exposed, or outlets are damaged, they should be repaired or replaced. As you put away winter appliances such as heaters and electric blankets, thoroughly check them over to see if they should be thrown away.

In the event of a fire, occupants and pets need to escape quickly as the smoke fills the home reducing the available oxygen and visibility becomes poor.

A fire escape plan gives occupants and pets the means for a quick escape. A good plan has two alternate routes from each area in the home. All escape paths must be clear and anything blocking them must be removed.

Check that all windows open and close easily so they can be used as alternate escape paths in case doors cannot be used.

Be summer fire-safe in the garden too

In the garden, keep the grass short, clean gutters from leaves and branches, and prune plants and trees to mitigate the risk of them becoming fuel in a fire.

Before barbecuing, check there are no total fire bans in your area. Also make sure your gas cylinder and all connections are in a good working order. Spray soapy water on all connections – if bubbles appear, this means that the gas is escaping. Don’t use it until it is repaired; contact a licensed gasfitter.

Australian fire authorities recommend that when using your barbecue, maintain a 3-metre clearance around it from flammable materials, have a nearby hose connected to a water supply or vessel with at least 10 litres of water, and an adult present at all times who has the capacity to extinguish it.

Taking the time to include fire safety in your spring cleaning and outdoor activities will help you stay safe and prepared without much effort.