RISK REDUCTION: Acting Inspector Gary Channells says permanent heaters – wood and fuel – need a yearly service.
RISK REDUCTION: Acting Inspector Gary Channells says permanent heaters – wood and fuel – need a yearly service. Paul Donaldson BUN240616FIR2

How to make your home fire-safe for winter

IF WE haven’t already, many of us are about to light the fire or plug in the heater or electric blanket for the first time since last winter.

Figures showing Queensland Fire and Emergency Services firefighters responded to 35 house fires last year and 29 in 2014 across the Bundaberg region underscore how important it is to prioritise fire safety.

QFES Bundaberg area acting inspector Gary Channells said there was a direct correlation between the weather and the number of house fires, especially if there was a cold snap.

“This time of year people are starting to get electric blankets out but people should test them first by lying them flat on the bed, turning them on for five minutes and if there are any faults, they’ll show up,” Mr Channells.

“Some of your permanent heaters – wood or fuel – require a yearly service to ensure they work.

“Even a build up of dust can be enough to cause ignition.”

Mr Channells said candles particularly posed a big risk.

“If they’re left next to a window and there’s a breeze the curtains can blow on to the flame or a piece of paper or something can blow onto them,” he said.

“Dogs and cats or kids can knock them over.

“We tracked one (fire) down years ago, it was a dog chasing a cat and that action caused the candle to be knocked over and away it went.”

In 2014 almost half of the region’s house fires started in the kitchen and Mr Channells said it was one room in the house where people needed to pay close attention to what they were doing.

“It’s very easy to be distracted when you’re cooking, particularly if you’ve got kids or the phone rings,” he said

While smoke detectors were a no-brainer, Mr Channells said pre-planning an escape route and an outside meeting point in the event of a fire was important.

“One of the issues where we see injuries is people going back into the house (looking for people),” he said.

“With an escape plan, practise it with kids. Say to them: ‘If you can’t get our that door, how would you get out?’.”

QFES offers a free service to help householders recognise fire and safety hazards in and around the home.

To book in or for more details click on the HomeSafe tab here.

WINTER FIRE CHECKLIST

Permanent heaters need to be serviced

Laying electric blankets out flat on a bed and turning them on for five minutes will reveal any faults

Don’t leave candles near curtains, paper or around cats and dogs

Pay close attention when you’re working in the kitchen

Have and practise a escape plan in the event of a fire



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