Losing a home to a house fire is a fear most Australians are familiar with and something we all want to avoid. According to the Country Fire Authority VIC, there were 1,588 preventable house fires in 2017 in Victoria alone. Some of the main causes of winter house fires include heaters, cooking and dryers.
Prepare your home and garage for a safe and comfortable winter by undertaking just a few simple checks.
Check your smoke alarms
One of the most important things to check is to test that your smoke alarms are working. According to Fire and Rescue NSW, batteries should be replaced at least once a year; however, each month you should test the smoke alarm to ensure they don’t need replacing earlier.
Press and hold the test button for at least five seconds or until you hear the beeps. Every six months you should remove excess dust to reduce false alarms and make sure smoke can reach the sensors.
Fire and Rescue NSW recommends having a smoke alarm in every bedroom and living space of your home, including hallways, stairways and your garage.
Putting on a fluffy dressing gown straight out of the dryer can feel like a big hug, especially when it’s been raining. According to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services clothes dryers are often responsible for house fires.
To avoid setting the house alight in a bid to dry your clothes, make sure you always clean the lint filter before, and after, each use. Keep the area directly surrounding the dryer free from anything flammable such as cleaning supplies or boxes.
Regardless of what kind of heater you have (including electric blankets), the Metropolitan Fire Brigade VIC recommends that all heaters should be kept in good working order and replaced if damaged.
You should never sleep with a heater or electric blanket on, and remember to clear two meters around the heater, keeping damp clothing or towels well away.
Cooking is one of the leading causes of house fires. Fire and Rescue NSW respond to approximately 4,500 residential fires a year and half of them start in the kitchen. Don’t rest utensils or tea towels close to the cooktop where they could easily catch on fire, and never leave the kitchen unattended when using an open flame.
It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket between the oven and the nearest exit, but at least one metre away from the stove.
If you keep your BBQ closer to the garage than the house, it’s a good idea to also keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket there too.
In an emergency, every second counts. It’s important to have an escape plan to increase your chances of getting out safely. Fire and Rescue NSW recommends creating an escape plan with primary and secondary routes out of every room, they have a template you can download here. It is recommended to keep exits clear, keys in or next to locks so that they can be easily opened, and to decide on a meeting place outside the home.
Your escape strategy should extend to the garage too. If you need to leave your home in a hurry, it’s important to know how to operate the manual release on your garage door to ensure everyone can leave through the garage quickly and safely if the power is out.
In an emergency, all Chamberlain garage door openers can be opened using the red manual release cord. For a roller door, this is usually found on the side where the motor is. On sectional and tilt garage doors, the manual release cord should be found in the middle of the garage ceiling.
How to operate a manual release cord:
- Pull the red cord down firmly once to manually release the door’s locking mechanism, the opener will make a clicking noise.
- Walk over to the door to push it up manually. Do not try to pull the door using the manual release cord; it will snap under the load.
- Take care when operating the manual release when the door is open, as it may fall rapidly due to weak or broken springs.
- When power returns, or it is safe to do so, re-engage the opener by pulling the red release cord down firmly.
It’s important that everyone in the home understands the escape plan. In the event of an emergency, call 000 from your mobile or a neighbour’s phone.
If you have any other questions or need support with your manual release, contact Chamberlain Customer Service on 1800 665 438.