Winter brings an increase in heating related fires and RAA Insurance warns that the kitchen and bedroom are fire danger hotspots.
Hayley Cain, RAA Insurance Claims Manager, says heating devices and cooking related incidents are the biggest contributor to winter fires.
“The majority of our accidental fire claims are cooking related and Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) data supports this, with 42 per cent of all domestic structure fires in 2014 related to cooking.
The MFS attended 80 fires in 2014 that originated in sleeping areas and this winter there have already been instances of fires related to electric blankets.
Ms Cain says it is important to remember that heating appliances don’t last forever. “Check your electric blankets each year for signs of damage or age – like scorch marks or faulty control switches. Use them to warm the bed for when you hop in, but don’t leave them on all night.
“Take care not to overheat wheat bags as they can continue to heat up in your bed. Candles can give your room a beautiful ambience but never leave them lit if you are out of the room or going to sleep.”
We all like to keep the lounge and dining areas of our homes warm as this is where we do most of our living. However, this also means they are particularly vulnerable to heating related fires when the temperature plummets.
“Keeping cosy in our homes is a priority during the winter months, but I urge all homeowners to consider the potential hazards of poorly maintained or unsupervised heating devices.
The same goes for cooking those hearty winter meals says Ms Cain. “Whether using oven, cooktop or slow cooker – always make sure your gourmet efforts are properly supervised at all times.”
RAA’s winter fire safety tips:
- choose heaters with automatic safety switches that turn off if tipped over
- keep electric heaters away from flammable items and wet areas to avoid the risk of electric shock
- always use a fire screen with an exclusion zone for items like drying racks and rugs and don’t leave fires or candles burning unattended
- supervise children and pets when heating devices or bare flame are in use and never leave matches or lighters lying around
- regularly maintain and replace heating devices such as air conditioners and electric blankets
- Clean and maintain your fireplaces, wood heaters and chimneys regularly
- never leave cooking unattended – even if it’s just to answer the phone or get something from another room – just turn it off and restart it when you get back
- Test your smoke alarms every month to make sure they are working and equip your kitchen with a fire blanket and dry powder fire extinguisher. Work out how to use them!
Go to raa.com.au or mfs.sa.gov.au for more fire safety and insurance information.
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