THE onset of recent cool weather has sparked concerns for fire safety.
Grafton Fire Brigade Captain Garry Reardon said there were a few precautions residents could take to ensure the safety of themselves, their families and their homes.
He said open fireplaces and wood heaters which use both original chimneys and flue systems are at risk of internal fires.
"If they have been sitting there over summer unused, our recommendation is they are cleaned."
"They get a build-up of resins that come out of timber, and when a fire is lit inside the heater or fireplace, those resins can potentially light up and cause a fire in the chimney or flue," Mr Reardon said.
"And that can set fire to timber in the roof space.
"We responded to a couple of chimney and flue fires last winter," he said.
Radiator heaters were also a risk when placed too close to any type of materials, such as curtains.
"Any type of fire place or heater can cause a fire, particularly if people put clothing too close to them when trying to dry their washing."
Electric blankets were also on Mr Reardon's checklist.
"They should only be used to warm the bed, not to heat the bed while you're asleep."
"If you've got an old one, you should have it tested to ensure it's not faulty."
Mr Reardon also reminded people with open fireplaces to place a guard in front of the fire.
"Otherwise the embers could roll out onto the floor or carpets," he said.
Residents are also being called to check their smoke alarms are in good working order.
CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS
- One in five Australians will experience a house fire in their lifetime.
- An accidental house fire occurs approximately every 26 minutes in Australia, killing more than 100 people each year.
- Roughly two-thirds of these deaths result from fire in properties without working smoke alarms.
- Without a working smoke alarm you are four times more likely to die in a house fire.
- Smoke Alarm Solutions have conducted more than one million smoke alarm inspections since 2007, 50% of all homes inspected for the first time did not have working smoke alarms.
- 3.8 million homes in Australia are estimated to not have working smoke alarms.
- 58% of people think smoke alarms should be checked yearly. This is wrong - smoke alarms should be checked monthly.
- A non-profit initiative called Alarm Reminders is a free online smoke alarm reminder service that reminds you to test, change the batteries or replace your smoke alarms when they expire. Read more at AlarmReminders.org.au.
- House fires are more common in the winter months when people are using fireplaces, heaters and other electrical equipment.
- The majority of deaths occur between 9pm-6am, and it only takes around three to four minutes for a fire to completely envelop a house.
- While sound can disrupt sleep, scents cannot.
- A sleeping person is incapable of smelling smoke and therefore cannot detect a fire.
- Many people make the mistake of de-activating their smoke alarm while cooking or when it starts beeping, then forget to re-activate it.
- Smoke alarms have a 10-year life span.
- If your alarm is over 10 years old it needs to be replaced.
- Every fire authority in Australia strongly recommends photoelectric smoke alarms.
- The time to check your smoke alarm is now.
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