10 things you can do to prevent fire hazards at home

first_imgWith Queensland’s new smoke alarm legislation rolling out across the state, it’s a good time to check if your home is up to safety standards.The Queensland government revised its smoke alarm regulations to ensure all households are prepared with the right tools and technology to keep their homes – and themselves – safe.We spoke to Inspector Alan Musk, Community Engagement Manager of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), to get his top tips for preventing fire hazards in your home.1. Update your smoke alarmsAs of last year, all homes in Queensland are required to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms. For anyone unsure, there are two common types of smoke alarms: ionisation alarms and photoelectric alarms. Photoelectric smoke alarms “see smoke”, while ionisation “smell smoke”.“In any residential home, because of the building and home furnishing materials in use today for everyday items  such as chairs, tables, wall coverings and building material, [things] will smoulder and smoke before they actually ignite. Householders need every second possible to escape and that is why  photoelectric smoke alarms are legislated for residential properties to provide those seconds needed,” Musk confirms.Check your smoke alarms regularly and update them if need be. Picture: GettyOn top of giving people more time to get out of the house, this system also aims to prevent smoke inhalation, which can be a life-threatening issue if a blaze starts while you’re asleep.In Queensland, as of 2017, all new builds and homes undergoing major renovations are required to install photoelectric alarms, so it’s worth getting a jump on the installation especially if you’re already making updates to your home. You are also required to install photoelectric alarms if you’re selling your home and the alarms were manufactured more than 10 years ago. Other existing homes must update their technology by 2027, and if you own a rental property, you’ll need to make the switch by 2022.2. Connect your smoke alarmsThe new regulations also require Queenslanders to ensure smoke alarms are interconnected, which means regardless of which room you’re in, you can be alerted to any potential fires in the home.“If one goes off, [all alarms] go off simultaneously,” explains Musk.“That means everyone is aware, and that gives everyone that chance to get out of the house.”3. Have a fire blanketFire blankets or fire extinguishers can help in the event of small fires in your home, particularly in the kitchen.“The best thing to have is a fire blanket,” Musk says.“The blankets have two hand holds at the back, so your hands are covered, it’s also long enough to cover the top part of your body. Then the idea is that you place the blanket over the pot [flame] and that smothers the fire. Also remember to turn off the cooking appliance when safe to do so.”Having a fire blanket in the house is something every family should make a priority. Picture: Getty4. Ensure your alarms are well placedThe correct positioning of your smoke alarms is vital. Not only should they be placed 30cm away from ceiling corners, the alarms should also be positioned away from appliances like air-conditioning units.To adhere to Queensland government legislation, smoke alarms should be placed in every bedroom,  in hallways which connect bedrooms or if there is no hallway then between the bedrooms. If there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm should be installed along your home’s main exit route.5. Pay extra attention to your kitchenKitchens are literal hot zones when it comes to fire hazards. Musk says it’s vital to pay attention to whatever you’re cooking: Don’t get distracted, watch any oil splatter and make sure cloths and tea towels are kept away from heating elements or open flames.“Have a lid near you so if anything happens you can put a lid on it. The biggest thing we talk about in the kitchen is don’t use water [to put out flames]. It will flare up and spread the fire while possibly causing serious injury to the person,” he says.It’s important to ensure your smoke alarm is working when cooking and preparing food. Picture: Getty6. Dust off your appliancesWhen the seasons change and you swap your heater for your fan, or vice versa, make sure you give the appliance a good dust before putting it to use.“Read and understand the instructions, make sure the cords aren’t frayed, keep [appliances] clean, and wipe them down and get the dust off them,” instructs Musk.Similarly, make sure you clean the lint out of your clothes dryer, which can otherwise be a common source of laundry fires.7. Clean your gutters, downpipes & drainsPrepare for bushfire season or electrical storms by ensuring your yard is cleared of  tree and garden litter and loose items, particularly on top of and underneath your home.“If you’re in a bushfire area, clean your gutters, install a gutter guard so you don’t have leaves falling into the gutters and clean up debris in the yard,” Musk says.  Keeping your gutters clear will also help when storms strike preventing overflow and water entering the house.8. Check electric blankets before useIf your electric blanket has been in storage, make sure it isn’t creased or cracked, the wiring in the blanket isn’t frayed and it’s not overheating before putting it to use.Make sure your electric blankets are in working order before switching on. Picture: Getty“The other thing we’ve found is that people tend to put babies on electric blankets,” Musk warns.“We recommend you don’t do that. Even at low temperatures, they could get a burn.”9. Keep your eye on your electricityQFES warns against overloading power points and recommends you only use four-outlet, safe power boards with overload protection.Keep an eye on your sockets and turn them off at the wall whenever possible. Also check to make sure power cords aren’t frayed and that any electrical cords are out of reach of kids, Musk says.10. Have a fire safety planWhile it doesn’t prevent hazards, it is vital to your safety to have a plan in place for you and your loved ones.“Go to the QFES website; you can create your own escape plan, [detailing] where people are, where they can go, where they should meet, where people are when they’re asleep, what would be their exit route and who is going to make the call to Triple Zero (000).”Having a fire plan is the best thing you can do to protect your family. Picture: GettyIn the event of a bush fire, you will need to prepare early, gathering important documents and items together and decide whether you will stay or leave.All information provided by Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.last_img

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