Home fires spark winter warning from RAA
Tuesday, 2nd Jul 2019
Householders are urged to remain vigilant this winter after RAA Insurance figures show a link between cold weather and a spike in home fires.
Electric heaters and appliances – such as clothes driers – caused half of the home fire claims last winter, according to RAA Insurance claims data.
The number of home fires is also significantly higher in the July quarter as residents spend more time at home to avoid the cold and wet weather, claims records show.
In the past three years, non-bushfire claims have averaged 100 in this quarter compared to 79 on average for each of the other quarters.
RAA Insurance Claims Manager Hayley Cain said it was the “high danger season’’ for house fires and warned that they were not only life threatening but could cause significant property damage worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Make sure you dust your electric heater before switching it on for the first time this winter,’’ Ms Cain said.
“It’s also advisable when buying portable heaters to purchase those which automatically switch off when they fall over, and don’t be tempted to leave clothes on an electrical heater to dry.’’
Ms Cain also urged people to be vigilant around the kitchen.
“Our claims records also show house fires can be caused by accidents, such as unattended cooking which catches fire,’’ she said.
Latest figures show Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and Country Fire Service firefighters have fought 139 house fires linked to heaters, solid fuel fires and open fires in the past four years.
MFS safety tips for householders this winter include:
- Keep any items that can burn away from heaters and fires. The clearance distance of heaters from clothes, bedding, furniture, curtains and other combustibles should be at least two metres.
- Clothes airers placed around or near heaters and open or solid fuel fires are a high fire risk. If they fall over, clothing can end up dangerously close to the heater.
- Turn heating equipment off when you leave the house, and do not leave portable heaters running for extended periods.
- Discontinue using any faulty heating equipment immediately. Have it repaired by a qualified tradesperson or replace it with a new item.