On average, there are 3,000 house fires in Victoria each year. Most could be prevented by taking simple precautions.
The most common place in the home where fires start is the kitchen. Many kitchen fires are caused by cooking that has been left unattended. Others are caused by electrical faults and flammable items like paper towels and curtains that are too close to sources of heat like the stove or toaster. If the cooking area is not kept clean a fire that starts on the stove can very quickly spread to built-up grease and fat around the stove and range hood, with the fire travelling up into the roof and to the rest of the house.
Many fires that result in people dying start in bedrooms or lounge areas. Often this is due to improper use of electrical appliances or home heating. Electrical items in the home can include the power supply, fixed or portable appliances, power boards and extension leads.
During the colder months we see an increase in the use of heating appliances, gas and electric. If you bring a portable heater into a bedroom be sure that it is well away from things that can burn, like clothing, bedding and curtains and always turn it off when you get into bed or leave the house.
If you’re drying clothes in front of a heater of any kind, always keep them at least a metre from the heater.
Sometimes there are not enough power outlets for all our devices. Power boards are becoming more common than ever. It’s important to remember that power boards are only meant to be temporary and they shouldn’t be a permanent fixture in your home.
Power boards can only take a limited number of devices so only plug in one device per outlet. Never plug double adapters or extra power boards into a power board and don’t plug high powered appliances like heaters into a power board or extension lead. Doing so can cause the power board or extension lead to heat up and start a fire.
Top home fire safety tips
- Book a licensed gas-fitter to check your gas heater
- Check chimneys, flues and fire boxes for cracks, rust and debris
- Check electric blankets for kinks in the wiring
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer (and continue to do this after every use)
- Check appliances for visibly frayed or damaged wiring
- Complete the Home Fire Safety Checklist to see if you’ve done everything you can to protect you and your family.
- Prepare a home fire escape plan and practice escaping quickly and safely.