With Australians spending more time at home due to social distancing and restrictions, there’s a higher risk of winter fires resulting from the careless use of internal heaters.
Strata Community Association (NSW) has issued a warning to NSW residents who are living in apartments, units and townhouses, noting that with more people now working from home or practising isolation, there is an increased risk of property fires.
It’s urging residents who do use heaters to warm up their living areas to remain vigilant, with Fire and Rescue NSW noting that the cooler months bring with it a 10 per cent increase in the number of home fires.
More fires in bedrooms and lounge rooms over the winter period are attributable to the use of heaters and electric blankets.
“Fires remain a very real threat,” it flagged, noting too that hundreds of buildings in the state are at an even higher risk due to the continued presence of flammable cladding.
Now is not the time for complacency, Strata Community Association (NSW) president Chris Duggan has weighed in, commenting that the good work residents have put in to stop the spread of coronavirus should not be tarnished by the sparking of avoidable fires.
“We’re in a ‘[perfect storm]’ of risk which has the potential to impact the lives of tens of thousands of people in NSW,” he stated.
“ACP cladding remains a real cause for concern with internal heater usage skyrocketing in the [winter] months.”
To decrease fire-associated risks, Fire and Rescue NSW has recommended the following:
- Check your electric and gas heaters before you use them. 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.
- Do not overload powerboards.
- Ensure everything is kept a metre from the heater.
- Install new heaters and use as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Check your portable outdoor heaters before use and have them 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.
- Always supervise young children in rooms with open fires or working heaters.
- Never use wheat bags in bed.
Further, house, unit and townhouse occupants have been advised to never use any outdoor heating or cooking equipment inside the home – including those that use “heat beads” or LPG as a fuel source.
Not only is it a fire hazard, this type of equipment is not suitable for indoor use and can lead to a build-up of lethal gases which could be deadly. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before use.
“We’re urging all residents to heed these safety recommendations and to take utmost care when heating their apartments, units or townhouses. Particularly in buildings identified as ‘at risk’ of flammable cladding,” Mr Duggan said.
“The last thing we want to see is an injury or death, or major damage to a building caused by a catastrophic fire.”