Data from Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) reveals autumn and winter are the highest risk periods for residential fires in Victoria with a 15% increase over the rest of the year. Here are some handy tips to make sure family's safe during the cooler months.
It may seem counterintuitive, as we often associate fire with the dry heat of the Aussie summer, but it is the cooler months where residential house fires are at their most common and therefore most dangerous.
In the midst of winter, now is an as good time as ever to consider your fire-safe practices within your home.
Here are some key tips.
1. Plan and practise your home fire escape plan
It may seem trivial but with the smell of smoke and a beeping alarm, it is easy for chaos. It is imperative that your household members are on the same page for a fire escape.
As part of your plan:
- Find and record two ways out of every room
- Agree on a meeting place (like a letterbox)
- Once out do not go back in
- Determine a way to call triple 000
- If you deadlock doors when you're at home, always leave keys in the lock to avoid becoming trapped
- As you escape, close internal doors behind you. This can reduce fire spread and minimise damage
These simple considerations can be lifesaving. It is crucial to remember that every second counts. Get out and stay out.
If you don’t already have a fire escape plan prepared and shared with your family, refer to this example escape plan from Fire Rescue NSW to get started.
2. Ensure your electric blankets and appliances are in good working order
- Make a visual inspection of your heating appliances/electric blankets at the start of winter
- Check power cords, visible wiring, and internal components for signs of damage or wear
- If concerned have a qualified electrician take a look or replace the item
3. Make sure you have working smoke alarms
Only working smoke alarms save lives. These essential fire safety items can often go ignored in residential properties.
Make testing and maintaining your smoke alarms a priority.
- Test that your smoke alarm/s are working
- Check the smoke alarm is in date. Smoke alarms have a lifespan of 10 years
- Maintain the smoke alarms by giving a vacuum to remove dust and any insects