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Stay safe at home this winter

Wood heater in a home.

Keep your home safe from fires this winter with these simple tips.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

With winter fast approaching Mount Alexander Shire Council is appealing to residents to stay fire-safe this winter. While everyone wants to stay cosy and warm, it’s important to remember the fire risks that arise with the use of heaters, fires and spending more time in the home.

“Fire can start at any time and can spread to engulf your home in a matter of minutes, putting you, your family and your pets in grave danger. It is important to have a plan to check for safety hazards and reduce the risk of a fire,” said Glenn Brown, Municipal Fire Prevention Officer, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

Heaters are a significant cause of fires, especially in winter. Remember to get your chimneys and flues cleaned annually and ensure that heaters are installed, maintained and operated according to manufacturer’s instructions.

A good rule is to make sure there is at least one metre clearance around the heater. Make sure you keep wood, other combustibles and drying clothing at least one meter away from all heating sources.

With colder weather setting in, many people may be running gas heaters for longer periods than usual. This could increase the risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning if domestic gas heaters are not regularly maintained, or operated without adequate ventilation.

Carbon monoxide is an odourless, colourless gas. Effects of exposure to carbon monoxide may cause symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness, confusion or chest pain if inhaled. Symptoms can be mistaken for a flu-like illness. Very high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, turn off all gas appliances and fans, open windows and doors, leave the property and seek medical advice.

Energy Safe Victoria recommends that all gas heaters are serviced at least once every two years by a qualified gasfitter.

“With many residents spending more time in their homes this winter due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is essential to take extra care during this time,” said Mr Brown.

Tips for staying fire safe at home this winter:
• Have a fire plan that all the family knows and practices regularly.
• Make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order.
• Check that your power boards are not damaged or overloaded.
• Many fires start in the bedroom, so remember never to leave your laptop or mobile charging on your bed.
• Never leave cooking unattended and keep your cooking area free from built-up grease, dust and oil.
• Make sure that cooktops and other heat sources are turned off before leaving home or going to sleep.
• Keep drying clothes and other items at least one metre away from all heaters.
• Clean the lint from clothes dryers after every use.
• Ensure all electrical appliances, including heaters, are kept in good working order and replace if damaged.
• Make sure your fireplace has a fireguard to prevent sparks and embers from entering the living area, and regularly clean and maintain the flue and chimney.
• Gas heating should not be left running continuously overnight or for extended periods.
• Before using a gas heater, check that any permanent ventilation in your home is clear and ensure there is fresh air flow into the room.
• Ensure that children are supervised near heating sources and the kitchen.

Find more tips and information via the CFA website www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fires-in-the-home.



Image: Keep your home safe from fire this winter.

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