Every year ACT Fire and Rescue (ACTFR) responds to 900 house and structure fires, and as temperatures in Canberra begin to drop below freezing, residents are being warned to take extra care with indoor heaters, clothes dryers and fire pits which are all common sources of ignition during winter.
“As we see the temperature drop, our heaters and clothes dryers turn on. Canberrans are inviting friends and family to gather around fire pits or to cook meals. While we want people to enjoy themselves, there are simple things to keep in mind to keep themselves safe,” Acting ACTFR Chief Officer Chris Zeitlhofer said.
“This year, we are urging Canberrans to be on the lookout for the common causes of home fires and to think fire safe. The message is simple, you need to Be Fire Ready.”
The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions could also help Canberrans this winter, as more people working from home means people will be able to respond quickly to small fires and spark ups.
The most common causes of house fires were ignition sources being left unattended, including electric blankets and dryers being left on, unattended cooking appliances, candles and having multiple items plugged into a powerpoint.
“People may leave appliances unattended for a period of time and that is when you do not get that early notification by the residents in the home that something has occurred,” Acting Chief Officer Zeitlhofer said.
Reduce the risk of fire in the kitchen
>WATCH open flames.
>Consider using a timer to avoid distraction.
>WATCH children in the kitchen.
>Keep stovetops CLEAR of flammable material.
>CLEAN kitchen appliances after use.
For more info visit https://t.co/8LrFE8BSND#befireready pic.twitter.com/8bVeMeEhZc
— ACT ESA (@ACT_ESA) June 2, 2020
To reduce your risk this winter, you should test all electrical appliances like electric blankets and powerpoints for any faults, clean filters in heaters and dryers, turn appliances off when they are not being used, keep a watch over common causes of fire while cooking, and put out open fires and heating sources when you are not home.
It is also important that all smoke alarms are working and that the household has a home fire escape plan, Acting Chief Officer Zeitlhofer said.
“These campaigns help to inform the community and reduce fire-related incidents,” he said.
A lit candle and an open window can lead to a room being engulfed in flames in less than three minutes, which firefighters demonstrated at the launch event, saying it was the reason for two house call-outs over the last month alone, although fire incidents in the ACT continue to decrease each year, Acting Chief Officer Zeitlhofer said.
For more information and tips on how to prepare your home and ensure your safety during winter, visit www.esa.act.gov.au.