AS the temperatures drop overnight, residents are being urged to ensure they are winter fire safe.
Suncorp spokesman Michael Mills said fires in Queensland during winter had increased by 23 per cent compared to autumn, according to their claims.
“Now that winter has arrived, it’s critical that you do not become complacent to fire risks as you try to stay warm,” he said.
Fire Services Minister Mark Ryan said Queensland firefighters had attended 554 house structure fires during the winter months last year.
“These months typically see the highest number of structure fires compared to any other period of the year so it’s a good time for families to sit down with their loved ones and prepare a fire escape plan,” he said.
“In the event of a fire breaking out in your home, you may only have a small amount of time to get out and having an escape plan could be the difference between life and death.
If a house fire does occur, residents should enact their fire escape plan, leave immediately and call triple zero (000) once they are out of the house.
A Queensland Fire and Emergency Services spokesperson said common origins for house fires were in bedrooms and kitchens.
Last year Cleveland and Redland Bay-based firefighters attended 16 house fires that originated in the kitchen and nine that started in a bedroom.
Tip 1: Check electric blankets, heaters and other appliances
Energex’s general manager operations Jeff Philipson said electric blankets and heaters could suffer damage while in storage.
“Before people plug in their heaters or electric blankets for the first time this winter it’s crucial they check for signs of damage such as frayed cords, exposed wires, damaged plugs and any other obvious dangers,” he said.
Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said it was also important to check whether products that had not been used since last winter had been recalled. Recalled products are listed at productsafety.gov.au.
QFES station officer Simon Johnstone said it was advisable to check that appliance cords were not frayed or wiring exposed.
“Make sure that you don’t use appliances that have been poorly maintained,” he said.
Tip 2: Don’t leave cooking unattended
Mr Johnstone said it was important to never leave anything cooking unattended in the kitchen.
It was advisable to have a fire extinguisher or a fire blanket in the kitchen in case a fire started.
Tip 3: Use candles and fires safely
Mr Johnstone said candles should be kept away from flammable materials, such as curtains.
“Ensure fireplaces are cleaned and maintained and don’t leave a fire unattended,” he said.
“External fires must be made in a properly constructed pit or barbecue area.”
Tip 4: Have an evacuation plan
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said all members of the household should be involved in fire escape route planning, before putting it into practice.
“This is also a terrific time to teach children the importance of stop, drop and roll, as well as practicing how to call triple zero (000) to report a fire emergency,” she said.
“Once everyone is comfortable with how to escape from each room, turn out the lights and run through your escape plan again, this time in the dark.
“Regular practice runs of your plan will give your family the best possible chance to escape if a fires breaks out.”
Tip 5: Check smoke alarms
Mr Johnstone said residents should have properly working photoelectric smoke alarms installed in their homes.
Alarms help alert residents early, enabling them to escape, particularly if they are asleep at the time a fire starts.