With more property fires occurring in winter than any other time of the year, it’s important that homeowners and tenants check all smoke alarms – test batteries monthly and clear dust regularly.
It’s also vital to be aware of the four types of open flued gas heaters that have recently been the subject of safety alerts. Some of them might be a lot newer that you would think.
Winter smart safety tips include:
•If your property isn’t fitted with a smoke alarm, do so immediately and, if renting, notify your property manager for urgent action
•Use and maintain electric blankets according to their instructions (to avoid overheating as well as potential fires) and replace if more than 10 years old – only use electric blankets to warm the bed and always switch off prior to getting in
•If your gas heater doesn’t have a flue, service it regularly (every 2 years by a licensed gas fitter) and make sure the room it is being used in, is well ventilated – never use an un-flued gas heater in rooms with no permanent ventilation
•Electric heaters must be checked for obvious damage including rusted reflectors and the power cord
•Properties with fireplaces need to ensure the chimney is clean and properly ventilated with a screen in front of it when it is in use
•Don’t ever leave portable heaters in places where people and/or pets could knock them over and keep wet clothing at least one metre away from heating
•Clean the lint filter of your clothes-dryer each and every time you use it as built up lint can catch fire
•Ensure you have a family escape plan – plan ways out of your property, decide on meeting location and keep exits clear as blocked pathways are a hazard
•Poor ventilation in a home is the main cause of mould – with shorter days, less sunshine and windows mostly kept closed, windows and walls can become traps for mould. Landlords should consider installing exhaust fans and ensure windows can be opened with ease so that tenants can open during warmer and sunnier times of the day
•Winter also sees a higher chance of slippage risks with the build-up of moss, mildew and algae in damp, shady patios, pathways, driveways and stairways – prevent and maintain with regular sweeping, shrub/tree trimming and a good clean with a high-pressure water blaster
•Lastly, check and monitor product recalls and national safety alerts via www.productsafety.gov.au – just recently, four open flued gas heaters (Regency i31 – purchased after 1 January 2010, Regency F38 and FG38 – purchased after 1 January 2006, Nectre 2000 – manufactured from 2007 and Real Flame Pyrotech – manufactured from 2012) failed safety tests and a national safety alert was issued for owners to stop using them