How to keep warm and safe during cold weather

How to keep warm and safe during cold weather

As the cold snap continues across the state, firefighters are urging residents to be aware of the fire risks present inside their homes.

Autumn and winter are the highest-risk periods for residential fires - partly due to increased use of heating appliances.

These include open fires, wood heaters, fixed electrical and gas-powered appliances and portable electric heaters or those which use gas or kerosene.

With an average of about 3000 house fires in Victoria each year, most could be prevented by taking simple precautions.

IN OTHER NEWS:

The Country Fire Authority's Chief Officer, Jason Heffernan, said many residential fires that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities begun in lounge and sleeping areas of a home.

"Many of these fires are found to be caused by heating systems, appliances and equipment," he said.

"Last year, CFA found that the lounge and bedroom areas were the most common room of fire ignition for incidents resulting in serious injury or death."

Many of the fires were caused by heating systems, appliances and equipment, with the cause of most of the lounge room fires caused by heating systems placed too close to combustibles.

"Every household should consider their fire safety practices and examine the potential risks around their home," CO Heffernan said.

Many residential fires are caused by heating appliances

Many residential fires are caused by heating appliances

Heater safety

To safely warm your home during cooler weather, ensure heaters are installed, maintained and operated according to their manufacturer's instructions.

All heating devices should be switched off before leaving the home or retiring to bed.

"Another dangerous mistake people make is drying clothes near heaters and fireplaces. Clothes should be kept at least one metre from the heat source," CO Heffernan added.

Children should always be supervised near all types of heating appliances, while portable heaters should be kept away from wet areas to avoid the possibility of electric shock.

Models with automatic safety switches that turn the heater off if it tips over should be chosen.

Open fires

Chimneys and flues should be cleaned annually before an open fire is used, while wood and other combustibles should be stored at least one metre away from the fire.

Only dry, clean wood should be burnt and a fire screen should always be placed in front of the fire to reduce safety hazards.

Open fires create a cosy atmosphere but it's important to use them safely.

Open fires create a cosy atmosphere but it's important to use them safely.

It should also be ensured that embers are extinguished before retiring to bed or leaving the house and that embers are cold before discarding ashes.

CO Heffernan also noted that it was vital for every Victorian to check their heaters to ensure they were in good working condition.

Brick chimneys and gas heaters should be checked before winter to prevent fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, while the latter should be professionally serviced every two years.

Poorly maintained gas heaters can cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

"There should be no greater reason to have your gas heater inspected and serviced than to ensure the safety of loved ones," CO Heffernan said "We have seen tragic consequences of this in the past."

Smoke alarms are recommended to be installed in every sleeping and living area of the home

Smoke alarms are recommended to be installed in every sleeping and living area of the home

The CFA also recommends that smoke alarms be installed in every sleeping and living area of the home.

"We know that in the event of a fire, a working smoke alarm can save lives," CO Heffernan said.

"Smoke alarms should be installed in all sleeping and living areas and preferably be interconnected so that if a fire starts in one room that smoke alarm will go off and also sound all other interconnected smoke alarms."

For more information on how to prevent fires in your home, visit the CFA website at https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fires-in-the-home.

This story How to keep warm and safe during cold weather first appeared on The Courier.