Winter house fire season prompts heater warnings

Winter "warmer" warnings as weather cools

Latest in Lifestyle
WINTER SAFETY : Check your heating appliances and have a working smoke alarm.

WINTER SAFETY : Check your heating appliances and have a working smoke alarm.

Aa

'Be safe, not sorry' this winter by taking precautions to guard against house fires.

Aa

Winter has arrived with a vengeance, prompting warnings about the dangers of burns and house fires caused by common heating products.

Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service are reminding households to 'Be safe, not sorry' this winter by taking precautions to guard against house fires.

And Queensland Attorney-General and Justice Minister Shannon Fentiman has warned people to know the risks of their "winter warmers" and check them before use.

Identify risks

"Knowing the risks of your 'winter warmers' helps you find practical steps to avoid harm and keep yourself and your loved ones safe and warm," she said.

"Common 'winter warmers' include electric blankets, heaters, hot water bottles, wheat/heat packs and fireplaces. Additionally, we keep our families warm, particularly children, by buying them winter pyjamas and spending more time inside.

"Some also like to decorate their homes for winter by lighting candles or using alcohol fuelled decorative fireplaces."

Last year, Fire and Rescue NSW attended 953 residential house fires between June 1 and August 31, which is roughly one third of reported home fires annually.

"Common 'winter warmers' include electric blankets, heaters, hot water bottles, wheat/heat packs and fireplaces. Additionally, we keep our families warm, particularly children, by buying them winter pyjamas and spending more time inside. - Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman

Three minutes

NSW Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said it can take as little as three minutes for a fire to take hold in a home.

"Every winter we see a spike in house fires which could have tragic and even fatal consequences," Ms Cooke said.

"I am encouraging households across NSW to take simple precautions like making sure smoke alarms are working, keeping objects a metre from the heater, not leaving cooking unattended and not using outdoor heating equipment inside."

Each year, more than 50 people across Australia die from house fires and many more are injured. Most of the homes do not have working smoke alarms installed.

Working smoke alarms save lives

Only working smoke alarms can provide early warning and time to escape. You lose your sense of smell when you are asleep. A working smoke alarm reduces your chance of dying in a house fire by half.

To use 'winter warmers' safely, consumers are urged to:

  • Ensure your smoke alarms are in working order.
  • Never leave open flames unsupervised.
  • Avoid falling asleep with your electric blanket turned on, and ensure cords are not frayed or worn out before use.
  • Wrap hot water bottles before use and always avoid direct contact with skin.
  • Dispose of heat/wheat packs that begin to look or smell burnt, once they are cool.
  • Place a mesh screen in front of fireplaces to prevent sparks falling out.
  • Ventilate your home to reduce the growth of mould.
  • Only refill decorative alcohol fuelled devices when the fire has been extinguished and the device is cool. If you have a smaller 'table top' style device, you should stop using it.
  • Keep children away from open flames and heaters. Children's pyjamas can be highly flammable and can cause severe burns if caught alight.
  • Supervise children who might be playing with toys that are powered by button batteries and ensure that devices powered by button batteries have secure battery compartments to prevent access to the batteries.
  • Store all hazardous chemicals, lighters and matches out of reach of children.

Visit: www.productsafety.gov.au/wellwinter for more information.

Aa