Stay Warm and Safe for Winter


As the nights are getting colder, many of us look forward to coming home to houses or apartments kept warm by fires, heaters or an air conditioner. If it’s raining outside, you might hang your damp coat over a rack right next to the heater so it’s dry for tomorrow. Curling up on the couch with a blanket, you light a candle for some ambience, and then drift off to sleep in front of the TV.

Sound relaxing? It could be dangerous.

A large percentage of residential fires happen in winter, and this is not a coincidence. Many of the ways we warm ourselves and our homes can be potentially deadly.

fireplaceA fire in any home is dangerous, but in strata buildings the potential for disaster is increased. Fires can spread quickly and easily between units, and the large number of people can mean mass panic and problematic evacuations.

Fortunately, the majority of these fires are preventable. Being careful can mean your winter’s evening is relaxing, not terrifying.

Here is a checklist for keeping safe this winter:

Kitchen:

  • Never leave cooking unattended
  • Keep tea towels and oven mitts away from hot surfaces such as stove tops
  • Check cords regularly on appliances such as the microwave, kettle and toaster
  • Store matches and lighters in a secure place not accessible to young children
  • Install a fire extinguisher fire blanket and know how to use them

Bedroom:

  • Check electric blankets for damage or frayed cords before putting them on the bed
  • Turn electric blankets off at the power point just before you go to bed
  • Keep bedding and curtains well away from portable heaters
  • Consider additional clothes or blankets instead of turning on heaters
  • Always extinguish candles or other open flames before going to bed
  • Turn off heater before leaving the room
  • Keep wet clothing away from heaters and never leave unattended

General:

  • Oil, gas and wood heating units may require a yearly maintenance check
  • Only use portable outdoor gas heaters on stable ground and keep them well clear of awnings and shade sails
  • Gas cylinders and hose fittings must be checked for faults and damage regularly
  • Most importantly check your smoke alarms are adequate in number and are regularly tested

Taking appropriate fire safety precautions is important in every building.  However, it is more so in strata titled buildings due to the risk presented by a dense population. It is vital that your owners corporation / body corporate has proper fire safety measures in place.

For body corporate or owners corporation committees
Ensure you meet your fire safety compliance obligations. These have been helpfully set out for you in “Tim Sheehan and Paul Wood’s Guide to Body Corporate / Owners Corporation Statutory Compliance”

For lot owners and tenants
Make sure you are familiar with the fire and evacuation plans specific to your strata building. These plans should be available from your committee, and fire and evacuation signs should be prominently displayed in the common areas.  Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is essential for your safety.



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