WITH cooler temperatures sweeping across the state, firefighters are urging Queenslanders to exercise caution when warming their homes.
Member for Burleigh, Michael Hart MP said that the winter months were busy for firefighters, with more call outs to house fires than other months of the year.
“Last winter, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) fire crews attended 123 house fires in the South East region,” Mr Hart said.
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“Thankfully, there were no fatalities recorded last winter and by remaining vigilant and being prepared, we can maintain the freeze on fire fatalities.”
Mr Hart said that with the longer nights and shorter days of winter, residents were more likely to have their homes shut up and heating appliances switched on.
“Having homes shut from the cold weather and heating appliances turned on, it may be harder to distinguish heat or smell smoke coming from a house fire,” he said.
“Residents need to mindful before going to bed, or leaving the home, to switch off all heating and electrical appliances to reduce the fire risk.”
QFES Assistant Commissioner for South East Region Peter Beauchamp said it was not uncommon for local firefighters to be called out to fires started by heaters or other electrical goods that were not kept in good condition or maintained properly.
“Firefighters have attended structure fires caused by faulty or poorly maintained heating equipment or incidents where flammable materials were placed too close to the appliance,” Mr Beauchamp said.
Mr Beauchamp said that residents should check all their heating appliances, including electric blankets and indoor and outdoor heaters, to ensure they were safe to use this winter.
“It is crucial that electrical, heating appliances are checked, regardless of their age, for fraying, exposed cords or rust,” Mr Beauchamp said.
“Just like indoor heaters, portable outdoor heaters need to be kept clear of potential flammable materials and should be checked regularly for faults or damage.
“Gas cylinders and hose fittings should be checked for leaks and should be turned off and disconnected when not in use.”
Mr Beauchamp reminded parents to always supervise children around fireplaces, chimneys, heating and other electrical appliances.
“Children should be at least one metre away from any form of heater or fireplace” he said.
“Never leave a fireplace unattended or pets unsupervised and have a guard or screen in place to prevent burning embers from escaping.
“It is also imperative for parents to educate children on the dangers of playing near heaters, fireplaces or chimneys.”
If a house fire does occur, residents are urged to enact their fire escape plan by leaving immediately and calling Triple Zero (000) once they have safely exited the home.
QFES offers a free home fire safety visit called Safehome, which is proudly supported by NRMA Insurance.
To book a Safehome visit call 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or visit www.fire.qld.gov.au