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Reducing the Risk of House Fires

At least once every ten years, replace your smoke alarms.

Over 10 years, dust, insects, and electrical corrosion in smoke alarm units can wear down the components and render them inoperable. Australian Standard 3786 (the standard for smoke alarms in Australia) requires that a serial or batch number be etched on the device to verify its expiration date.

Install photoelectric smoke alarms if possible.

The two main types of smoke detectors in use in homes are ionisation and photoelectric. The benefit of photoelectric smoke alarms is that they can detect smouldering fires before flames do, which may help save lives or property. Photoelectric alarms react within three to five minutes compared with up to 20 minutes for ionisation alarms to do the same, suggesting that they may be effective at detecting fires early on.

Be wary of overloading power boards.

A power board may become overloaded if too many gadgets are plugged into it, resulting in electrical faults. Make sure all connections are secure and that they are adequately ventilated. Also, be on the lookout for signs of damage. Many modern power boards come with a surge protector, but trip switches in-home electricity boxes still pose a risk of electrical failure.

Don’t leave stovetops and open flames while in use

Kitchens are a high-risk location for house fires to start, so keep non-cooking flammable items like tea towels, oven mitts, or cookbooks away from the stove and oven. Also, be cautious about wearing loose-fitting sleeved clothing in the kitchen for this reason. Additionally, make sure your gas ovens are always shut off to avoid gas leaks or poisoning. Unless you have accidental coverage included in your house and contents insurance policy, smoke damage may not be covered unless you turn off the stove.

Keep any chemicals or combustible items out of the reach of children.

Set aside a cold, dark, and safe area for flammable items or chemicals to ensure that they are kept cool. Combustible materials like paint or gasoline should be packed in their original containers. It’s preferable to refuel your lawnmower in the open during the winter months.

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