Winter warmers: How to help keep homes fire safe this winter

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Cosy evenings: If you are planning on warming your toes by the fire this winter, before you strike a match make sure your chimney is clean, it's properly ventilated and always place a screen in front your fireplace when in use.

Cosy evenings: If you are planning on warming your toes by the fire this winter, before you strike a match make sure your chimney is clean, it's properly ventilated and always place a screen in front your fireplace when in use.

There is nothing better on a winter's night than warming yourself by the fire, a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

However, before the cool weather sets in, you need to make sure you can heat your home efficiently and more importantly safely.

Each year, thousands of Australians experience the devastation of a residential fire. Around 30 per cent of them occur during the winter months.

Whilst many of the fires begin in the kitchen, Fire and Rescue NSW have some great advice on how to help keep homes fire safe this winter, including:

  • If you have a fireplace in your home make sure the chimney is clean, and it's properly ventilated
  • If you have a fireplace always place a screen in front of it when in use.
  • Check electric blankets for damage or frayed cords before placing on the bed.
  • Take care to keep curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from portable heaters.
  • Use only authorised installers of fixed heating appliances.
  • Keep wet clothing at least 1 metre from heaters or fireplaces and never leave unattended.
  • Most importantly, have an adequate number of suitable smoke alarms installed throughout your home and make sure that you test them regularly.

According to HealthDirect there are other winter health hazards around the home you need to be aware of. For example, winter products such as hot water bottles, electric blankets and heaters can cause burns and other injuries.

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No matter what type of heater you have, you should check every winter that it is safe to use.

Always check your gas heater is working correctly. It should be serviced every two years by a licensed gas fitter.

Electric heaters should be checked for damage such as rusted reflectors (especially on older heaters). The power cord should also be checked for damage. An electrician or service technician should do any repairs.

If you like to keep warm with a good old fashioned hot water bottle, HealthDirect's top tip is to use warm, not boiling water to fill your bottle and examine it for leaks before you use it.

Hot water bottles can cause burns if you place them on your skin so make sure they are wrapped in a towel or fabric cover.

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This story Winter warmers: Staying warm yet safe first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.