Now that the clocks have gone back and days and nights are rapidly cooling down, most people are thinking about lighting fires or turning on the heating. However, the colder weather brings with it a special set of dangers that could increase the risk of house fires. Fire and Emergency NZ has produced a checklist of tips and precautions to help householders keep their homes and families safe this winter.
First and foremost, everyone should make sure smoke alarms are fitted and working throughout the home. Also, power multi-boards should not be overloaded or covered, as they can overheat and cause a fire.
Fireplaces and chimneys
• Clean chimneys and flues before lighting the first fire of the season.
• Always use a fireguard or spark-guard when using an open fire.
• Never throw rubbish into the fireplace – especially batteries and aerosol cans.
• Always empty ashes and ashtrays into a metal bin and pour water over them before disposal. Remember that ashes can take up to five days to cool completely.
• Keep matches, lighters and anything else that can create fire out of reach of children.
• Worn and old electric blankets can cause electric shock, fire and possibly even death. At the first sign of wear have your electric blanket checked by a qualified electrician.
• Replace your electric blanket every five years with newer, heat-protected models.
• Don’t place heavy objects on the bed while the blanket is switched on.
• Make sure the blanket is always flat on the bed and that controls or cords are not twisted or caught between the mattress and the base of the bed. Twisted cords are a common cause of electric blanket fires.
• Roll your blanket when you store it for summer, don’t fold it.
Heaters and clothes dryers
• Remember the heater-metre rule – always keep furniture, curtains, clothes and children at least 1 metre away from heaters and fireplaces.
• Never cover heating appliances or store objects on top of them.
• Don’t overload clothes dryers and clean the lint filter after each load cycle.
Portable LPG gas heaters
• Check to see the gas hose is in good condition and doesn’t show any signs of damage or wear.
• If the heater does not light straight away, turn it off and then try again. Don’t let the gas build up before trying to relight it.
• Always have fresh air coming into rooms where a gas heater is in use.
• Have your heater serviced every 12 months.
Info: Contact your local volunteer fire brigade, or visit fireandemergency.nz