How to avoid risks within your home during the cooler season
As the balmy summer evenings quickly become a thing of the past and the winter chill forces you to switch on those electric blankets, you know that Aussie winter has arrived. While the winter season is a nice break from the stifling Australian heat, it’s at this time of year that we like to remind all of our employees and patrons of the importance of home safety during winter.
Many would be unaware that the cooler, darker weather can in fact increase the risk of indoor security hazards around your home. That’s why it’s important to take extra steps to secure your home during the winter months. While installing security measures such as CCTV cameras or alarm systems can help to deter thieves and reduce the risk of a break in, there are many other hazards that often get overlooked.
As you dust off those electric blankets, hot water bottles, and heaters ready for use this winter, we’ve compiled a list of tips for minimising the risk of hazardous items around your home, so that you can rest easy knowing that you and your family are protected. Take a look!
When it comes to fire safety around your home, smoke alarms are crucial. Most of us will admit that we often get a bit slack when it comes to testing them, changing batteries, and ensuring that a sufficient number of alarms are installed throughout the house.
Our tips to ensuring your smoke alarms are working properly? Smoke alarms are cheap and easy-to-install, so there’s no excuses for not having them installed throughout your house. We recommend that you test them once a month (usually it’s only a matter of pressing the ‘test’ button) and change the batteries once a year. When it comes to deciding how many smoke alarms you need and where to place them, keep in mind that state and local authorities have specific standards and requirements that must be met – always check to see what’s legally required for installation. We don’t need to remind you that fire alarms can be a lifesaver.
There’s nothing better than hopping into a nice warm bed on a cool winter evening. However, as cosy as they might seem, electric blankets can overheat, cause an electric shock, or spark and start a fire if they’re faulty. Luckily, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has given us advice for safe use of electric blankets during winter:
- Only use electric blankets to briefly warm up the bed (read the manufacturer’s instructions before use for recommended times), and then turn them off before climbing into bed.
- When the blanket is switched on, don’t place any heavy objects on the bed, as this can damage the blanket’s internal wires.
- Check for a frayed cord. If your electric blanket is over 10 years old, replace it.
- Don’t store electric blankets by folding them like a normal blanket. Instead, they should be loosely rolled or stored by hanging to prevent damage to heating element wires.
- It’s a good idea to check your electric blanket after lengthy storage. Before you use it for the first time, lay it flat on the bed and turn on for a few minutes to check it’s working correctly as it heats up.
In 2012 alone, over 40,000 electric blankets were recalled in Australia. So, if you have any doubts about your brand of electric blanket, visit www.productsafety.gov.au to check if your brand/model is on a recall list.
As you get ready to crank up your fireplace this winter season, it’s important to consider the increased risk of fire hazards when using them within your home. Here’s some tips to minimise the risk of a house fire if you decide to light the chimney:
- Always make sure the chimney is clean and not blocked before you light your first fire of the season.
- Always place a fireguard screen in front of a fireplace when it’s being used.
- Never throw rubbish into the fireplace, particularly batteries, aerosol cans, or foams and plastics.
- Be mindful that ashes can take up to five days to cool so always empty your fireplace or wood burner ashes into a metal bin and pour water over them before disposing.
- Before going to bed, always make sure your fireplace fire is out.
Following these simple tips will minimise the risk of sparking a house fire within your home so that you can enjoy the fireplace and keep your family and home safe.
The most common cause of house fires in Australia is from flammable items, especially bedding, curtains, and clothing, being placed too close to heaters. Old dusty heaters that have been stored away for long periods of time pose a real risk if they are not cleaned properly before use as dust can be a flammable hazard that may ignite once the heater warms up. No matter what type of heater you have in your home, it’s important to give it a thorough clean and continue to dust it regularly (when it’s turned off and disconnected) throughout the winter months. And, if your home has a ducted heated system, get a professional to come and clean it for you.
We hope that these tips have informed you as to how you can avoid risks with your home to keep you and your family safe during the Aussie winter.