Call for residents to reduce their winter fire risk

As residents are spending more time indoors during the cooler months, there is a potential increased risk for fires due to heaters, electric blankets, and dryers.

Ararat Rural City Council is reminding residents to review their home fire safety arrangements this winter to help keep our community safe.

“Fire safety needs to be a year-round priority. Most fires are caused by everyday household items such as faulty or poorly maintained appliances,” said Dr Harrison.

“Though we are outside of bushfire season, winter is the peak period for house fires, and it can happen to anyone.

“Most of these fires are preventable. Don’t be complacent and take the necessary measures to prevent a fire from occurring in the first instance.”

Council urges residents to have a working smoke alarm in their home and to test it regularly. Smoke alarm maintenance is important, test each month; dust around the alarm once a year and replace outdated alarms every 10 years.

“Smoke alarms are easy to install and maintain, most importantly they alert you to the fire when you’re asleep,” he said.

“Having a working smoke detector installed in all bedrooms and living areas is critical to keeping your family safe.”

When it comes to rental properties, the landlord must ensure smoke alarms are installed, but it’s the tenants’ duty to maintain them – this includes notifying property owners when a smoke alarm is not in working order.

Rental providers must ensure smoke alarms are in good working order, this includes testing annually, replacing batteries as required and repairing alarms when needed.

“Carry out health checks to your heating systems before your use them for the first time, including any central heating units, gas heaters, wood heaters, electric blankets and even your dryer,” he added.

“Be sure to clean out any unwanted household chemicals that can also add extra fuel to a house fire.”

Heating fire safety checklist:

  • Split systems/central heating units – get these checked by a qualified tradesperson (plumber, electrician, heating/cooling specialist)
  • Gas heaters –test for carbon monoxide leaks at least one every two years by a qualified gasfitter
  • Fireplaces/Wood heaters – check the flue and the surrounding infrastructure before lighting. Chimneys are recommended be cleaned every 12 months.
  • Electric heaters – check all leads and plugs are in good condition, ensuring there are no splits or exposed wiring.
  • Clothes dryers – check the appliance for visibly frayed or damaged wiring. Regularly clean the lint filter after use.
  • Electric blankets – Feel the internal wires for any abnormalities and inspect cords for any damage. Feel for any uneven hot spots when the blanket is turned on
  • Wheat bags – check for signs of wear and tear or scorching, replace if needed.

“Preparation is key. Have a home fire escape plan in place and minimise the risks where possible,” continued Dr Harrison.

“Our CFA volunteers work really hard to support our community, let’s do our bit to prevent fires from happening in the first place.

“Fire safety education measures not only prevent fires, they empower residents to make informed decisions, enhancing our community’s resilience,” concluded Dr Harrison.

Residents who wish to burn off materials on your property, please register with ESTA (Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority) so there are no unnecessary callouts of emergency services. More info can be found here:

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