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Firies urge caution as winter chill sets in

Published: 3rd July 2015

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters are reminding residents to be careful when it comes to electrical fire safety and home heating in the lead-up to this weekend’s forecast cold snap.

Firefighters were called to more than 1100 home fires last winter, nearly one quarter (22 per cent) of which were due to leaving household items such as electrical and heating appliances, and cooking unattended.

“It’s cold and people are cooking more, using heaters to warm up the house, electric blankets to warm up their beds and putting clothes in the dryer,” FRNSW Assistant Director Community Safety and Research, Chief Superintendent Chris Lewis, said.

“Keep looking when cooking and never leave a heater, dryer, electric blanket, or any other electrical device unattended. Always turn them off when leaving the home or going to bed. Also remember to check the electrical cords for fraying and other damage before use.”

Firefighters are also reiterating warnings that outdoor heating and cooking appliances must not be brought indoors. This includes appliances that use ‘heat beads’ or LPG as a fuel source.

“This type of equipment is not suitable for indoor use and can lead to a build-up of carbon monoxide which can be fatal,” Chief Superintendent Lewis said.

“We are seeing people use home-made heaters, such as terracotta pots bolted together and placed on top of butane gas cookers, indoors. These types of make-shift heating devices not only put you at great risk of carbon monoxide poisoning but also starting a fire in your home.”

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe urged householders to only use approved heaters that meet Australian Standards and to check whether their heater was on the national product recall list at recalls.gov.au.

“Fair Trading inspects thousands of electrical and gas products each year to ensure only approved products are being sold,” he said. “We need the assistance of the general public to be vigilant and to notify Fair Trading of any unsafe, unapproved or non-compliant products they may see.”

FRNSW recommends the following to greatly reduce their risk of fire in your home:

• Keep looking when cooking
• Clean out the clothes dryer filter after every load
• Keep clothing and other flammable materials at least one metre from heaters
• Do not overload power points and powerboards
• Always turn off heating and electric appliances when leaving the home or going to bed.
• Regularly inspect powerboards and electrical leads for signs of damage and degradation, and for dust.
• Ensure you have a working smoke alarm and a practised home escape plan.
• If a fire does occur, get out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000).

For further information about winter fire safety, visit www.fire.nsw.gov.au or contact your local fire station.

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