Winter warning of alarming house fire risk

AS WE enter cold winter months, Australians need to turn their attention to fire safety in their homes.

During winter we use heating equipment that, especially after months in storage, can cause house fires resulting in significant property damage and the loss of life.

Statistics show that winter is a hazardous time with the highest risk of house fires happening.

Insurance company Allianz says that most fire claims occur during winter than summer, and Fire and Rescue NSW has found that 43% of all fire fatalities in a year happen in winter.1

There are some basic things everyone needs to do to ensure they stay safe this winter.

At the very least, replace the battery in your smoke alarms and test them.

Only working smoke alarms can help save your life. Properties without smoke alarms are 57% more likely to suffer damage and loss to their property, 26% more likely to suffer serious injury, and four times more likely to die in a residential fire.2

Check that your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old, and replace them with photoelectric models for better detection.

Whilst keeping warm, don’t let anything that can ignite come into contact with anything that is hot.

Heaters and fires must be kept at least one meter clear from furnishings and materials, and definitely do not use them to dry clothes.

Electrical heating equipment should be tested by an electrician, and gas heaters need to be tested by a gasfitter. Ensure they are licensed to perform the work and ask to see their licence.

Category Manager for the Family First brand, Richard Partington, urges everyone to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their family.

“Discuss the importance of fire safety in your family, and make sure someone is specifically responsible for it and actually testing the smoke alarms and your heaters,” he said.

“If you don’t know who is responsible for fire safety in your home, chances are no-one is. Have the conversation and make a decision.”

A survey in 2014 found that 90% of parents had not discussed and agreed to who in their family was responsible for checking their smoke alarms, and 77% admitted to facing difficulties in checking and maintaining them.3

“Treating fire risks seriously will ensure you’re better-prepared for the unexpected, and if that happens you’ll have a higher chance of survival,” Mr Partington said.