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Maintenance and tips for reducing fire risk in your home
Winter has well and truly set in, and with that comes an increased risk of house fires. We’ve compiled a home fire safety checklist for maintenance that can be carried out to reduce your fire risk this winter.
- Ensure BBQ fittings are tight and secure, and there's at least 1 metre of clear space around the BBQ. Use the soap bubble test to make sure there are no leaks.
- Store Flammable liquids in sheds or garages in appropriate containers.
- Remove overhanging branches
- Remove branches within three meters of your chimney
- Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters
- Consider installing spark-arrestor mesh in chimneys
- Ensure a fire extinguisher is readily available in the garage or workshop, particularly where activities such as welding are being carried out.
- Make sure the stovetop is clean and free of any spilled fats or burnt foods.
- Regularly clean the rangehood filters to prevent the build-up of fats and oils
- Have a fire extinguisher readily available in the kitchen.
Living rooms and bedrooms
- Have smoke alarms installed in every bedroom, living area and hallway in the house — ideally, long-life photoelectric ones.
- Matches, lighters or other fire starting tools should be stored out of reach of children.
- Lights are fitted with the correct bulb size and rating (in watts).
- Electric blankets are in good condition, and not more than 5 years old.
- The fireplace has a screen with a proper fireguard, and the chimney has been checked and/or swept in the last year. Sweeping out your chimney will not only help prevent chimney fires but also help to reduce fires caused by sparks from build-up of creosote.
- Disposal of ashes - Ashes can stay warm enough to start a fire for up to five days so it’s important to store them in a safe way until they’re cool enough to dispose of. Place ashes in a steel bucket, thoroughly doused with water, cover with a lid and put outside for at least five days before safely disposing of them.
- Remove lint built up in the clothes dryer filter (you should check this after every use).
- Have the clothes dryer checked by a professional to ensure there's no dust built up in the back (don't open up the dryer yourself, as this will breach the warranty).
- Ensure there is adequate ventilation in the laundry and air space around the dryer.
Services & appliances
- Check wiring – If your home was built pre-1970 and you’re unsure of the wiring type or know that old rubber-based wiring is present. Then have the wiring checked and replaced.
- Powerpoints or multi-boards are not overloaded with appliances that use a lot of power, like heaters. Apply a ‘one socket, one appliance’ rule.
- If you have any concerns about an appliance get it checked and certified by a qualified electrician
- Ensure appliance cords are in good condition and not frayed.
- Extension cords are not designed to be permanent replacements for a house’s internal wiring. Never put them under carpets or mats or use them when they’re tightly coiled.
- Regularly clean electrical appliances to prevent the build-up of dust.
- Do not place fans, heaters, televisions, clothes dryers or electrical equipment in areas with restricted airflow
Electrical fire warning signs:
- Circuit breakers and fuses go out regularly.
- Regularly dimming and flickering lights.
- Buzzing, charred or discoloured outlets and switches.
- Acrid burning smell.
- Shocking switches and outlets.