Julia Pannett

Home Insurance

16 Jul 2015

Is fire safety a priority for your home during winter?

With the drop in temperatures, keeping your home safe from fire in winter can sound like an easy task. However, did you know that 43% of all fire fatalities occur during winter? Not only that, almost half of all house fires are caused by  everyday activities – proving that fire safety should be a priority in your home all year round. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help safeguard you during the cooler months.

Check your smoke alarms

This may seem obvious to some, but we’ve placed checking your smoke alarms as our number one tip for a reason – more than three million Australians have never tested their firealarms! (The Duracell Fire Safety Study) Perhaps it is because they think they’ll be able to smell the pungent smoke? Think again. Our sense of smell is greatly reduced when we sleep. In fact smoke has the ability to lull us into a deeper sleep, leaving us reliant on the sound of an alarm ringing to wake us up. Changing thebattery and cleaning the alarm regularly is the most effective way to protect your family and home from fire danger.

If you are renting, in most cases it is your responsibility to clean, test and replace batteries while it is the landlord’s responsibility to supply and install a working smoke alarm. Failure to do so might jeopardise their building insurance.

Conduct a home fire safety audit

Taking stock of the current fire dangers in your home with a fire safety audit will help you minimise risk and put plans in place for what to do in the event of a fire. When conducting an audit, you’ll need to look inside and outside the house and not just problem areas. Remember, never leave cooking unattended, note when electric blankets will be left on overnight, clean the lint out of the clothes dryer, and to be wary when burning incense or candles. Make sure your family is aware of potential fire risks within the home and what to do in the event of a fire.

 Testing your heating equipment

If you haven’t used your electric blankets in the last six months it will be worth testing them before leaving them to warm the beds for long periods of time. Things to be wary of are signs of wear and tear and loose plug connections. If the electric blanket is physically fine test it by laying it flat on top of the bed first to ensure that it is heating up correctly. If you have any doubt over the safety of the electric blanket, don’t risk it, as they can be a potential shock and fire hazard.

Your oil and gas heaters may also be due for a maintenance check.  A regular maintenance check will ensure that they are in good condition, efficient and safe. Heaters that aren’t maintained are not only a fire hazard, they make for a costly energy bill, too!

Have a fire safety plan

While prevention is the best way to avoid a fire, having a plan in place will allow you to act quickly in the event of an emergency. Keep fire extinguishers and fire blankets within easy, such as beside the stove or oven in the kitchen.  It is also important to talk to your family about fire/ hazard risks and what to do in the event of a fire, such as staying low to the ground and organising a safe place to regroup outside the property.
These tips will help you and your family to be fire safe around your home. And the number one household activity that causes house fires?  Cooking.