It’s always a tough when the days start getting shorter and summer becomes more of a distant memory. But when autumn arrives, it’s the perfect time to do some fire safety checks around the home. As the days get cooler you will find yourself using those summer gadgets less and less, and the winter warmers more. So before you pack away summer and unpack winter here are some things you should be checking.

Check your smoke detectors’ batteries

Each year the New Zealand Fire Service attends over 3,500 house fires. In over 80% of those fires, smoke alarms were either not installed or not working*. As we move into the colder months, heaters and fires will start being used a lot more. Now is the perfect time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. You can talk to The New Zealand Fire Service for recommendations.

Clean your dryer vents

At the back of your clothes dryer you will find a vent used to expel the hot air. Dust and fibres can sometimes get clogged up in this vent posing a potential fire risk. Regularly dust the back of the clothes dryer to prevent dust build up and overheating. It’s also important to empty your lint collector after each cycle.

Check the filters on your heat pump, range hood and ventilation system

Just like with dryers, many heat pumps, range hoods and ventilation systems will have filters designed to collect dust. Over time this can build up creating a serious risk of fire. The filters should be removed for cleaning – check your instruction manual for details.

Check your electrical cords for fraying or damage

As you walk around your home you will no doubt notice that almost everything is plugged into the wall. After a while these plugs can become damaged and pose a potential fire hazard. If you see any damage, speak to a trained electrician about replacing them. And remember: do not overload multiboards with double adaptors – only one appliance per multiboard or wall socket.

Clean your chimney

Open fires are a great way to heat up a house efficiently. However fires also deposit a lot of soot on the inside of your chimney. Just through regular use, this soot can build up – and given it is flammable – pose a real risk of fire. The New Zealand Fire service recommend getting your chimney swept by a professional at the beginning of each winter.

Get your electric blanket checked by an electrician

Electric blankets are a great way to fight off the cold nights, but they don’t last forever. It’s always a good idea to get your electric blankets tested annually by a qualified electrician. That way, if something is wrong you know about it before disaster strikes.

Check your BBQ

As summer rolls away, so too does the BBQ. But before you put it away for the winter, give it a once over. Check all the fittings, connections and hoses, disconnect the gas bottle and give it a good clean. That way, when spring appears you’re all ready to fire up the barbie safe in the knowledge you won’t set fire to anything (except a few steaks).

Make an escape plan

Does your household have an escape plan? Now would be a good time to figure out what everyone should do in the case of a fire. According to the New Zealand Fire Service, you should:

    • Make sure that everyone knows the sound of the smoke alarm and what to do if a fire occurs
    • Identify a primary escape route out of every room, then pick a secondary route in case the first is blocked by fire
    • Ensure doorways are not obstructed
    • Select and indicate a meeting place outside of the home (e.g. the letterbox).

Keeping fire safe at home doesn’t need to be hard. A couple of simple checks and some basic common sense can keep you, your family, and your home safe.

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