Did you know that by law, all residential properties in Victoria must have at least one smoke alarm installed on each level?
Home fire safety is everyone’s responsibility, because house fires occur all year round. Mt Eliza Fire Brigade has already attended a serveral house fire’s this year. Thankfully, the majority of them only sustained minor damage.
Home Fire Safety Tips
We have included a number of common causes of house fires, and tips to help prevent them.
Kitchen and Cooking Fires
Cooking in the kitchen is the single largest cause of fire in the home. A fire in your kitchen can cause extensive damage. Kitchen fires are responsible for a high level of personal injury. Pay attention in the kitchen.
- Always supervise children in the kitchen. Keep them away from the stove top and oven.
- Keep stove top, griller, oven, range hood and cooking area free from built up grease, dust and oil.
- Stay in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended.
- Combustibles such as tea towels and paper towels must be kept away from cooking and heat sources.
- Make sure kitchen appliances are clean and in good working order.
- A fire extinguisher and fire blanket should be stored within easy reach but away from the cooking area. MFB and CFA recommend that you only use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket if you feel physically and mentally able to use this equipment safely.
- If you are older or have a disability you should evacuate as soon as possible and phone Triple Zero (000). Do not attempt to fight the fire yourself.
Most preventable residential fire fatalities occur between 8pm and 8 am. When we sleep we lose our sense of smell. Without a working smoke alarm you may not wake up or wake up too late to safely escape.
- Ensure electrical appliances like phone chargers, laptops, hairdryers and hair straighteners are not left on bedding.
- Turn off all portable heating and extinguish open fires before going to bed.
- Keep electric blankets flat with controls at the side of the bed. Regularly check for broken or worn wiring.
- Turn electric blanket on 30 minutes before getting into bed and turn off when you get into bed.
- Smoking in bed is very dangerous. Do not smoke in bed.
- Only purchase heat bags with instructions and use according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
Heaters can be fixed electrical and gas powered appliances, an open fire, wood heater/slow combustion or portable heaters including electrical, gas and kerosene. Fires caused by heating increase during the winter months.
- Turn off all portable heating and extinguish open fires before leaving your home Drying clothes and other items must be kept at least one metre away from all heating.
- Ensure heaters are installed, maintained and operated according to manufacturers’ instructions.
- Always use a fire screen in front of an open fire.
- Chimneys and flues should be cleaned annually.
- Keep wood and other combustibles at least one metre from fire.
- Children must be supervised near all types of heating. Maintain a safe distance between children and heating.
Electrical appliances including double adaptors, power boards and extension cords are an increasing cause of fires. Using damaged electrical equipment and appliances can result in a fire. Only use appliances in good working order.
- Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using any electrical appliance.
- Use low wattage globes in lamps.
- Ensure monitors, laptops, televisions and other equipment have good air flow around them and are not in confined spaces or covered.
- Turn off all electrical appliances at the power point when not in use.
- Only use certified electrical trades people to repair damaged/faulty electrical appliances, wiring or equipment.
- Avoid using double adaptors.
- Use power boards according to manufacturers’ instructions, never overload and check regularly for damage.
Open Flame Fires
Candles, incense and oil burners are often used for social, cultural and religious practices. It is vital when using these items that you do so safely to avoid starting a fire.
- Always extinguish cigarettes, candles, incense and oil burners before leaving home or going to sleep.
- Ensure children and animals are a safe distance from candles, incense and oil burners.
- Only use candles, incense and oil burners on stable non-combustible surfaces.
- Keep curtains and other combustibles away from open flames at all times.
- The use of open flames should always be supervised.
- Keep cigarettes, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
- Use heavy, high sided ashtrays to prevent them tipping over and always properly extinguish cigarettes.
The laundry contains electrical items such as washing machines and dryers and is used to store cleaning products and chemicals. Good housekeeping is essential for a safe laundry.
- Clean lint filter after each use.
- Always let clothes dryers complete its cool down cycle before stopping.
- Keep electrical appliances away from water.
- Only use your BBQ outdoors and maintain a distance of one metre from fences, sheds and walls.
- Ensure the gas hose is not perished, connections are tight and not leaking. Check for leaks by spraying connections with a soap solution.
- Check the gas bottle test date is current.
- Always supervise children around the BBQ. Drink alcohol in moderation if you’re cooking, to keep yourself and others safe from burns.
Your Home Escape Plan
It is vital you know what to do if a fire occurs. Follow these rules to plan how you would escape a fire your home and practice this with your whole family. Make sure you can get out of your home in an emergency. Remember, you can’t escape if you have deadlocked your door.
- Get down low and stay out of the smoke
- If it is safe, close doors to slow down the spread of fire and smoke.
- Alert other people on your way out
- Get out and stay out
- Meet at a safe place such as the letterbox outside your home
- Call (triple zero) from a mobile phone or a neighbour’s phone. Ask for fire.
For more information, visit the Plan & Prepare section on CFA’s website.