With cooler weather closing in and heaters, wood fires and electric blankets coming out of storage, now is a great time to review your home fire safety procedures. According to the New Zealand fire service, one quarter of all home fires are started in the kitchen alone. A good home and contents insurance policy is vital, of course, but far better if an accident can be prevented in the first place. Here are a few tips:
- Smoke alarms are essential. Ensure that you have smoke alarms installed throughout your home.
- Clean the chimney at the start of the season, before you light a wood fire, and use a screen in front of the fireplace to prevent embers falling onto the floor.
- If drying clothes in front of the fire (or heater), ensure that they are kept a safe distance away. Australia’s Fire and Rescue NSW advise that 1 metre is a safe distance.
- Check electric blankets carefully for damage before using them. Lay them on top of the bed and test them for several minutes before installing them.
- Also check your heaters, clothes dryers and any other appliances that are used seasonally to ensure that the electricals are still in perfect condition. Remember not to overload your power points!
- With so many home fires starting in the kitchen, an easily-accessible fire extinguisher and fire blanket are a great idea.
- Ensure that all portable heaters, wood fires, lamps and electric blankets are turned off when you go to bed and when you leave the house.
The New Zealand Fire Service has some excellent advice on home safety. You can read more here.