With South Australians feeling the effects of winter’s shorter days and cold temperatures, the State Government urges the community to stay safe by ensuring home heating products are in good working order.
When appliances are working efficiently they consume less power and householders will save on heating bills.
An estimated 64 people die across Australia in residential fires each year, and a further 2000 suffer burns. In many cases these homes did not have working smoke alarms or the fires were sparked when faulty appliances ignited.
Over the past five years, Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and SA Country Fire Service (CFS) firefighters have battled more than 350 home heating fires that left a collective $11.6m damage bill across the state.
Popular ‘winter warmers’ include electric blankets, heaters, hot water bottles, wheat/heat packs and fireplaces. Householders and consumers are warned to check appliances, such as heaters and electric blankets, that may not have been used since last winter. Ensuring appliances are working efficiently can also help reduce power bills.
To get safely through the winter months and to use ‘winter warmers’ safely, people are urged to:
- Ensure your smoke alarm battery has been replaced within the past 12 months.
- Never leave open flames unsupervised.
- Avoid falling asleep with your electric blanket turned on, and ensure cords are not frayed or worn out before use.
- If using hot water bottles, avoid direct contact with your skin once they are filled – use a fitted cover or wrap before use.
- Dispose of heat/wheat packs that begin to look or smell burnt, once they are cool.
- Place a mesh screen in front of fireplaces to prevent sparks falling out.
- Ventilate your home to reduce the growth of mould.
- Check vents and air conditioning filters for dust build up.
- Only refill decorative alcohol fuelled devices, such as ethanol burners, when the fire has been extinguished and the device is cool, and if you have a smaller ‘table top’ style device you should stop using it.
- Keep children away from open flames and heaters. Children’s pyjamas can be highly flammable and can cause severe burns if caught alight.
- Supervise children who might be playing with toys that are powered by button batteries and ensure that devices powered by button batteries have secure battery compartments to prevent access to the batteries.
- Store all hazardous chemicals, lighters and matches out of reach of children.
Attributable to Andrea Michaels
A lot of people are dusting off their heaters and pulling out the electric blankets. Our ‘winter warmers’ are invaluable, but they can also come with risks including fires and burns. There are also savings to be made by having appliances that are working properly, something that’s important to all South Australians right now with rising costs of living.
Do a bit of a stocktake. Check appliances for fraying cords, melted cables, plugs or exposed wires. Avoid using power boards or double adaptors especially for heaters or electric blankets. If you don’t have enough power points, it’s worth thinking about investing in an additional outlet.
It is important to remember that the winter months also mean children will be spending more time indoors, and because of this, caregivers are urged to pay careful attention to youngsters around heaters and open fires.
Quotes attributable to Joe Szakacs
The right behaviours and choices could save your life, home, prized garage or backyard shed.
It’s time to do a check of your smoke alarms and all your winter appliances for damage or wear and tear that may have gone unnoticed at the end of last season.