THE winter months may mean less chance of bush-fires but the Kempsey Fire and Rescue department are still kept incredibly busy during this time with residents going to various lengths to keep themselves warm and toasty.
The cooler months see a ten percent increase in the number of home fires, with a prevalence of fire in bedrooms and lounge rooms due to heaters, electric blankets, and the like.
Kempsey Fire and Rescue Station Commander, Captain Tony Hackenberg, says the winter fire season has well and truly started throughout the area.
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"We've started receiving several call outs throughout the community as people start their winter heating plans," he told the Argus.
"At the moment, we're commonly assisting people with their fire alarms to ensure they're operational and set up correctly."
Along with fire alarm installation and check ups, Mr Hackenberg explained that chimney problems are common throughout winter along with heaters and fires.
"We recommend people get their chimney's checked out and cleaned, as well as ensuring they're abiding by the one metre rule where objects and clothes should be a metre away from their heating devices," he explained.
There are a number of other simple steps you can take to prepare your home against the risk of fire this winter:
- Turn off heaters and electric blankets before leaving home or getting into bed
- Clean lint filters in the clothes dryer before or after each use
- Don't overload power-boards
- Keep candles away from curtains and put them out before leaving the room
- Don't use LPG cylinders for cooking or heating indoors as they can leak and the gas is both toxic and highly explosive.
- Ensure you have a working smoke alarms
Kitchen fires are another problem Fire and Rescue departments see during these winter months with FRNSW Community Safety and Research Chief Superintendent Mick Morris stating last year that people should 'keep looking when cooking'.
"Kitchen fires account for 45 per cent of all residential fires and 34 per cent of injuries in NSW. Flames or heat sources being left unattended are the most common cause contributing to kitchen fires," he said.
"It can take just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one.
"To avoid kitchen fire catastrophes, we urge people to 'keep looking when cooking'.
"It's a simple way to avoid losing your home or even worse, your loved ones or your own life."
FRNSW recommends the following simple safety checklist for home cooks:
- Never leave cooking unattended. If you leave the kitchen, turn off the stove. It takes just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one.
- Don't put anything metallic in the microwave.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.
- Don't cook under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Turn pot handles inwards to avoid being knocked or grabbed by children.
- Keep your oven and range-hood clean. Excess grease and fat can ignite in a fire.
- If your pan catches fire, don't throw water on it - GET OUT, STAY OUT AND CALL TRIPLE ZERO (000)