As Australian households look for ways to stay warm and cosy this winter, Wormald is reminding families to be extra vigilant about keeping their homes fire safe and discussing fire prevention with their children.
Winter is the most dangerous time of year for house fires with more than 60 per cent of home fires occurring in the cooler months.
Unfortunately when it comes to house fire fatalities, children are in a high-risk group.
Garry Kwok from Wormald believes fire safety education should start in the home, with parents setting a good example for their children. “If children see that their parents are taking fire safety seriously, they are far more likely to take it seriously as well.”
With the majority of house fires preventable, it is vital that families conduct a fire safety audit of the home. This includes ensuring that the smoke alarms are installed in the correct location, batteries been replaced with new ones (if it’s an existing alarm) and checking that fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers or fire blankets are in good working order.
Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are all essential tools for defending a home against a fire.
Jodee Wyatt, founder of The Fire Foundation, a charity organisation that is dedicated to helping victims of fire to recover and rebuild their lives, can’t stress enough how important it is to be well prepared.
“In addition to ensuring the home is fitted with working smoke alarms, I encourage families to develop a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with the entire family. This can also be a fun way for children to get involved in the fire safety discussion.”
A fire escape plan should start with a floor plan of the home that maps out the quickest escape route from each room and indicates where fire safety equipment is kept.
The fire escape plan should then be practiced regularly by the entire family including children so they don’t forget what to do in case of a fire emergency.
Wormald has the following child-friendly fire safety advice for parents to help them reduce the risk of fire in the home:
- Ensure children know what the smoke alarm sounds like and they what to do if they hear it.
- Keep matches and lighters well out of reach of children.
- Ensure children are kept at a safe distance away from heaters, candles, and oil burners.
- Supervise children in the kitchen and keep them away from the stovetop and oven.
- Ensure heaters are always kept on a flat stable surface on the floor and away from curtains or other flammable items such as clothes and toys.
- Be aware that some children may have a natural curiosity about fire and be tempted to be involved in ‘fire play’. Closely monitor any ‘suspicious’ behaviour.
Wormald’s Winter Fire Protection Checklist
- Check smoke alarms once a month to ensure they are working correctly. Change the batteries every 12 months and make sure there is at least one smoke alarm installed between the bedrooms and remainder of the home, and on any other storey within the home
- Consider purchasing a fire safety kit consisting of a fire extinguisher, fire blanket and make sure the family know where it is located.
- Have a fire escape plan and discuss it openly with everyone living in the house.
- Ensure all heating equipment is clean and in proper working order. Inspect electrical cords and replace if cracked or damaged.
- If you have a fireplace, ensure you have a mesh guard to protect against flying sparks and embers from an open fire. Ensure the fire has been completely smothered before leaving the room or house.
- Ensure heaters are placed a minimum of one metre away from anything that could potentially burn. Be sure to switch off at the appliance as well as on the wall, turning of the power outlet.
- When cooking, don’t leave cooking appliances unattended. If you need to leave the room for more than a few minutes, switch off the stove or oven.
- Switch off electrical blankets before going to bed.
- Extinguish any candles before going to bed or leaving the room.
For complete fire safety protection this winter, fire safety kits are available from Wormald. Each kit includes a 1kg ABE fire extinguisher, photoelectric smoke alarm and fire blanket.
For more fire safety tips and information visit Wormald or call 133 166.