In Australia, winter is the worst season for house fires across the country, with New South Wales alone reporting 43% of all fire fatalities occurring during the winter months. However, the good news is, most accidental fires can be avoided with increased education and awareness around home fire safety.
Below, you’ll find simple checklists you can follow in your home to help prevent a house fire this winter.
Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash
5 Common & Preventable House Fire Causes in Australia
Who doesn’t love the aroma of a freshly lit candle? However, candles are a common cause of preventable house fires in Australia. In fact, a candle can take as little as 3 minutes to set a whole room alight, but, there are simple ways to prevent this.
How to reduce the risk of a house fire when using candles.
- Never leave a candle unattended.
- Ensure the candle is placed away from any flammable materials, including curtains and plastic containers.
- Always put the candle out when leaving the room, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
2. Electric blankets.
Electric blankets are a popular heating alternative for those is the cooler parts of Australia during the winter time. However, electric blankets are also a common cause of residential fires.
How to reduce the risk of a house fire when using an electric blanket.
- Make sure you’re using the blanket correctly. An electric blanket should be turned on for no more than 30 minutes before bed and turned off when getting into bed.
- When storing your electric blanket during the warmer months, ensure the blanket is rolled, not folded.
- When taking the blanket out of storage following the summer months, diligently check for discolouration caused by overheating or general wear and tear.
3. Heaters and open fires.
Heaters are a very common cause of house fires in Australia. While they may be an easy, cost-effective solution to ducted heating, they can be a fire-risk.
The heating appliance itself is rarely the direct cause of a metropolitan house fire, but rather flammable items left too close to the heater. This is especially true for space heaters. Their exposed elements make it easier for common household items such as blankets, curtains and clothing to touch the elements and ultimately catch fire.
How to decrease the risk of a house fire caused by a portable heater.
- As a general rule, ensure your heater has a clear one meter square space on all sides.
- When using and installing heaters, follow manufacturers directions directly.
- Never leave a heater unattended in a room, or whilst sleeping.
- Regularly check the power cords for splits and frays.
- Service regularly.
4. Electrical appliances.
Australians have a growing number of electrical appliances in their homes, with the average household using 18 Kilowatts per day. As Australians, we all know to ensure we have working smoke alarms, however do we know to check our powerpoints and appliances? Faulty appliances and overloaded power points are a common cause of fatal house fires.
The best way to avoid household appliances from catching on fire is to turn them off at the wall where possible. Furthering on this, for powerpoints housing larger appliances, such as home entertainment and computers ensure they are attached to a surge protector. Many Australians are unaware that power surges can cause appliances to catch fire, this is especially true during severe storms.
How to tell if your powerpoint is a fire hazard.
- Ensure no powerpoints are overloaded. Key signs of an overloaded point include, buzzing or humming from the port, burning odours, dimming lights or failing appliances when other switches are turned on and burnt out plugs and sockets.
- Add a surge protector to all power points connected to high-risk electrical appliances.
- As a general rule, never connect powerboards or double adaptors together. Where possible, avoid plugging two large appliances into the same point.
- Regularly check power cords for damage and if found, immediately disconnect. Do not use a damaged or discolored power cord or adaptor.
5. Clothes dryers.
Clothes dryers are one of the number one causes of preventable fires in the home. These appliances often getting us out of sticky situations when the weather doesn’t allow for air drying our clothes. However, when not used correctly or maintained, they can pose great danger to your family.
How to decrease the risk of a house fire caused by clothes dryers.
- Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions directly. Where possible, have an electrician install your clothes dryer.
- Do not exceed the recommended load capacity.
- Clean the lint filter after every load.
- Do not leave the dryer running unattended.
- Ensure there is clear space for ventilation around the dryer. Do not store clothes near the dryer whilst running.