Staying warm calls for fire safety message this winter
AS THE nights get colder, South Burnett residents are being urged to be fire smart as they try to stay warm.
Queensland Fire and Emergency service Kingaroy area commander Mark Long said it was important to check and clean heaters and fire places before bringing them out this winter.
"After winter we put our heaters away, we fold up our electric blankets and pull them out the next cold night six months later,” he said.
Mr Long encouraged an annual assessment of electrical appliances associated with heating.
"The last thing we want is for a fire to occur and someone to get injured and if it was only a $30 electric blanket that caused it, you'd be pretty distraught if that was the case,” he said.
Electric blankets and oil heaters should be inspected before being used for any concerns such as any fraying cords or rust and regularly tested by a certified electrician, he said.
"It's important to give them a wipe down from the dust after sitting in the cupboard to make sure they are in tip-top condition during the winter period,” Mr Long said.
RACQ spokesperson Kirsty Clinton said their new research showed 85 per cent of people surveyed did not regularly inspect their electric or oil heaters, putting their homes at risk of fire.
"What's even more concerning is most people reported only checking their heaters if they noticed a problem with them,” she said.
Mr Long said for homes with wood fire places it was vital to make sure the chimney was clean before using the fire place.
Since winter can be quite damp, people often try to dry their clothes on an airer near the fire place of heater.
"Sometimes if the clothes are put too close, there's a chance of some radiated heat igniting the clothes, so it is very important to consider where you try to dry clothes,” Mr Long said.
Air con units should also be maintained with the filters cleaned regularly.
South Burnett fire crews have already attended to two chimney fires this month, and take on about six fires in fire places each winter, often due to blockages or lack of maintenance, Mr Long said.
The most important thing residents could do was ensure their home was fitted with working smoke alarms, he said.
With new legislations introduced, all houses must have photoelectric smoke alarms in every bedroom and common area by 2027.
"We encourage people to run over the edge of smoke alarms with the vacuum on a regular basis,” Mr Long said.
Households should also have a home fire plan in place and make sure all members of the household know what is expected if there was a need to evacuate the premises, he said.
Ms Clinton said the RACQ research found 70 per cent of people surveyed had smoke alarms installed, but 12 per cent failed to test them in more than a year.
"It's the beginning of winter, so why not use it as a prompt to check the status of your smoke alarms,” she said.