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Fire safety around the home this winter

Keeping warm and safe during cooler months of the year also means being alert to indoor health hazards. It is important to remember that there is a huge difference in how you run your home when the weather begins to get chilly.

Here’s some hot tips for not setting your house on fire this winter:

  • Fireplace: Use a metal mesh guard in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks and logs falling out onto the floor.
  • Chimney:Flues and chimneys should be cleaned once a year to prevent a build-up of flammable material and ensure the heater functions correctly. Be sure to clean it at the start of the season before you light your first wood fire.
  • Clothes drying:If drying clothes in front of a heater or fireplace, ensure that they are kept a safe distance away. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services advise that 1 metre is a safe distance.
  • Electric blankets: Check electric blankets carefully for damage before using them. Lay them on top of the bed and test them for several minutes before installing them.
  • Appliances:Check your heaters, clothes dryers, and any other appliances that are used seasonally to ensure that the electrical devices are still in perfect working condition. Ensure that electrical cords are not worn or frayed. Empty and clean any filters.
  • Bedtime:Ensure that all portable heaters, wood fires, lamps, and electric blankets are turned off when you go to bed and when you leave the house. Never smoke in bed.
  • Hot water bottles: Use warm, but not boiling water to fill your hot water bottle and examine it for leaks before you use it. Hot water bottles can cause burns if you place them directly on your skin so make sure they are wrapped in a towel or fabric cover.
  • Power sources:Remember not to overload your power points or power boards.

Fire Safety Prevention

About half of all fires in the home start in the kitchen, and more than 40% of all deaths from fire happen during winter. Be sure to follow these important steps to keep you and your home fire safe this winter:

  • Escape Plan: When fire takes hold every second counts. In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. Every home should have a fire escape plan. Without an escape plan you are placing the lives of everybody in your home in danger. For tips on how to write your family’s escape plan, head to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service website.
  • Smoke alarms: As from 1 January 2017 Queensland’s updated smoke alarm legislation came into effect. The means that homes throughout the state must be fitted with interconnected photoelectric alarms to ensure the earliest possible warning in the event of a fire. According to Queensland Fire and Emergency Services all new and renovated homes or units that are subject to a building application submitted from 1 January 2017, will require the installation of hardwired, photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms. For existing dwellings, they can be powered by a non-removable 10-year battery. You can find additional information regarding smoke alarms from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service website.
  • Deadlocks: There are some tragic stories of homeowners deadlocking themselves inside the house resulting of them being unable to escape from a fire. Any keys to locked doors should be easily accessible, perhaps even remaining in the lock, on the inside of the door.
  • Fire extinguisher and fire blanket: These are affordable and available from your local hardware shop. Keep them near the entrance to your kitchen, between the entrance/exit and anywhere a fire is likely to occur.
  • Dry chemical fire extinguisher: this is suitable for most small household fires. Shake it occasionally to prevent the powder from settling.
  • Electrical safety switch on your switchboard: you’ll need a licensed electrician to install it for you but it’s a must in any household.

Dial 000 and ask for the fire brigade in an emergency. Know your address and the closest cross street.

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