It only takes a few minutes for a home to be engulfed by fire. Accordingly, being fire safe and knowing what to do if a fire occurs could mean the difference in being able to protect the family home and, more importantly, can save lives.

Fire & Rescue NSW report that there are approximately 4,500 residential fires state-wide each year, with 30 per cent occurring during the winter months[1].

During the cooler months, electrical appliances including clothes dryers, electric blankets and portable heaters are used more frequently, with many Australian households commonly operating numerous portable heaters in various parts of the house at the same time. Used incorrectly or without care, this can increase the risk of house fires.

There are a few vital ways to ensure your home and family is well prepared to prevent or deal with a fire emergency:

·       Smoke alarms: Make sure that all smoke alarms installed in the home are working and regularly test them. Smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old should be upgraded, preferably with a photoelectric model that is interconnected to others in the home. This useful video from Wormald’s sister company Exelgard features instructions for installing smoke alarms. There is more information about the different types of smoke alarms and where they should be installed on the Exelgard website.   

·       Fire equipment:  A fire extinguisher and fire blanket can be essential tools to help protect your home and family against a fire. Make sure this protective equipment is part of the home’s emergency kit and that each family member knows where they are stored and which tools to use for different types of emergencies so they are ready to act quickly if needed. Click here for information about fire safety equipment.

·       Fire escape plan:  Never underestimate the importance of discussing an emergency escape plan with everyone living in your home. For families living with children or people who need assistance to walk, it is important to consider the best way to get everyone out of the building quickly and safely.  Having a fire escape plan that is tailored to your specific property and circumstances will help to ensure that everyone knows what to do in an emergency situation. Read more about fire evacuation plans.

·       Be alert in the kitchen:  Unfortunately, most house fires are cooking related. Never, under any circumstances, leave the room while the stove is on, and be mindful of different fire hazards in the kitchen, for instance never pour water on an oil fire as it will exasperate the fire. Instead grab a fire blanket to smother the flames.

·       Electrical do’s and don’ts

o   Ensure heaters are clean, in proper working order, and positioned a minimum of one meter away from anything that will burn.  Where possible, heaters should be plugged directly into a power point and not through a power board or extension cable to minimise fire risk.

o   Clothes dryers are typically used more frequently during winter and are notorious for causing house fires. Make sure the lint basket is cleaned after every use.

o   Inspect all electrical cords in the home for damaged or fraying leads, and ensure that the plugs and outlets are secure.

o   Don’t overload extension cords or power outlets with double adaptors as the power sockets can overheat and catch fire.

o   Make sure power boards have built-in surge protectors to safeguard against an electrical fire. Ideally, power boards should be placed on their side to prevent dust or other material from falling into the connection, which can cause fires.

o   Don’t leave phones or tablets charging on or under the bed. Handheld devices emit substantial heat while charging and there are increasing reports of the devices catching fire. It is recommended that each device is unplugged as soon as it is fully charged.

o   For those with an open fireplace, ensure a spark screen is positioned in front of the fire to prevent embers or sparks from escaping the fireplace.

For further information contact our team on 133 166. 

[1] https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=956

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