In Australia, there are only a few months (or weeks for some), that we actually need our “winter doona”.

When the temperature drops, a significant fire danger increases around our homes. Flammable items being left too close to heaters (especially bedding, curtains and drying clothes), candles, unattended cooking, open fires, clothes dryers and electric blankets.

In almost all cases, “accidental” house fires are completely preventable, just by taking a little extra care around the home and being aware of the possible dangers.

Here are a few essential tips to help improve fire safety this winter:

    • Smoke Alarms: Make sure you test them, change the batteries, and ensure you meet legislation in terms of how many and where they are situated around the home.
    • Extinguishers and Fire Blankets: Do you have them in your Kitchen? Priority. What about near your BBQ area? Second priority. Does everyone in your home know how to use them? This is vital.
    • Winter Heaters: They must be cleaned and checked before use. Dust can be a flammable hazard, and may ignite once the heater is warmed up. If your home has a ducted system, make sure you have a professional clean it regularly. Same with fireplaces and chimneys. When it comes to placement of a heater in your home, a good rule of thumb is “a metre from the heater”. Do not dry clothes on the heater, as this can cause a fire. Do not leave clothes unattended if you are drying them next to a heater. Remember, a metre from the heater.
    • Clothes Dryers: When was the last time you cleaned the lint filter? Did you know this should be done after each load? Do you wait until the dryer has cooled down before removing the clothes?
    • Electric Blankets and Wheat Bags: Only use electric blankets to briefly warm up the bed, and then turn them off when you climb into bed. Make sure heavy items do not come in contact with the electric blanket, otherwise the wires can be damaged. If your electric blanket is more than 10 years old, replace it. Electric blankets should be rolled, not folded, this will ensure they aren’t damaged. In regards, to heat bags, if you are warming it up in the microwave, do not leave it unattended. They can start a fire in the microwave if left too close to the edge, or if the wheat bag is old.
    • Candles: Place them away from flammable items, children, and pets, and always put them out before going to sleep. Never leave them unattended. Make sure the candle is sturdy, and ensure all paper, plastic and decoration is off the candle before use.
    • Fire Evacuation plan: Do you have one? This is vital in the event of a fire. You should have a plan that works for you and your family – and everyone should know it.

    Finally, make sure you have an adequate Home and Contents insurance policy in place – in case the worst happens. If you need advice in regards to your Home and Contents insurance, call Citycover on (07) 3270 1500.