Winter is Coming – Check Your Heating

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Every winter, there are more than 1,000 house fires in NSW, of which around 200 fire-related injuries occur. The following advice about four common causes of house fires, and what you can do to prevent them, is from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

1. Flues and chimneys: Ensure your flues and chimneys are regularly cleaned. Have your chimney serviced prior to using it by a qualified tradesperson. Purchase a fire screen if you do not own one. Ensure your wood pile sits at least a metre away from the fireplace. Choose a safe place to store matches and lighters where children cannot reach and that is at least a metre away from the fireplace.

2. Heaters: Ensure everything is kept a metre from a heater. Check your electric and gas heaters before you use them, and if you suspect a fault, have the item checked by a qualified repairer or replaced. Check all cords for fraying and damage. Plug heaters directly into wall sockets only, and do not overload powerboards. Install any new heaters and use as per manufacturer’s instructions. Check your portable outdoor heaters before use and have serviced or replaced if required. Ensure that the area where you plan to use them is level, well ventilated and away from awnings and other combustible materials. Never use any outdoor heating or cooking equipment inside your home including those that use ‘heat beads’ or LPG as a fuel source: this type of equipment is not suitable for indoor use and can lead to a build-up of lethal gases which could be deadly.

3. Electric blankets: Folding your electric blanket can cause damage, so always roll it for storage, and check for any damage before use. Test your electric blanket before use by laying it on top of your bed, feeling the internal wires for any abnormalities and inspecting cords/controls for damage. Turn it on for 5 minutes and then feel for any uneven hot spots. If you notice any of the above the electric blanket should be replaced. Electric blankets are not designed to be used while sleeping, so consider adding additional bedding to keep warm if needed.

4. Wheat bags: Wheat bags can help pain, but they also have the potential to cause burns and fire if not used properly. Check your wheat bags for signs of wear and tear or scorching, and replace if needed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when heating, using and storing. Wheat bags can easily ignite or burn if overheated and need to completely cool on a non-combustible surface before storing. They are only designed to be applied directly to the body and should never be used in bed or while sleeping.

Finally, always have working smoke alarms. To meet legislative requirements, you must have at least one working smoke alarm on each level of the home placed between bedrooms and living areas

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