AS we move into winter, firefighters are urging community members to remain vigilant about fire safety.
When the bushfire season ends, the winter months pose a whole new series of challenges for firefighters, such as an increased response to house fires generated by a variety of causes.
But this season will be a little different to an ordinary winter, with more people at home due to social isolation requirements.
The Country Fire Authority's District 15 Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gavin Hope said that from ensuring smoke alarms are installed correctly and have working batteries to taking precautions with day-to-day household tasks, there are a number of actions community members can take to stay safe.
Many fires during winter are the result of people simply trying to keep warm. So before turning on ducted heating for the first time this season, Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Hope said it was important to check for dust buildup.
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The smell of burning dust for a few minutes is normal after a long period of disuse, though if it persists, it is probably an indication that something is wrong.
If using a portable heater, always keep flammable items such as clothing, bedding or curtains well away to prevent the risk of fire, while gas heaters should be serviced by a qualified gas fitter every two years.
Meanwhile, it is important to have a look up the chimney before lighting a wood fire to check for any blockages, such as a nest or a possum.
Another cause of fire is faulty wiring. Always ensure appliances do not have frayed or damage wiring, including when the electric blanket is pulled out again for winter.
With many people setting up home offices, Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Hope said not to overload power boards.
Overloading a power board with too many items, especially those that use large amounts of power to run - high-powered items such as hair dryers, mix masters or electric heaters - could cause it to overheat and result in a fire.
The best power boards to choose are those with a built-in circuit breaker so that if they are overloaded, they shut off.
"If you have more than one power point in the room, use them to spread the load around a bit," he said.
And with the cooler conditions, hanging washing outside to dry is not always an option.
Remove lint (a highly combustible material) from clothes dryers after every cycle, always let a dryer run through its full cycle and don't leave clothes sitting inside the dryer if the cool down cycle has not been completed.
Doing so could cause hot items to self-combust, especially items such as tea towels which have built up oils in them.
Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Hope also urged people to be mindful when cooking - don't leave a pot on the stove unattended or place flammables near heat sources - as well as when using power tools.
He said firefighters have already responded to a few incidents in which community members had been injured completing odd jobs around the home recently so urged people to concentrate on the task at hand to stay safe.
More information about installing and maintaining smoke alarms and about fire safety is available on the CFA website.
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