Essential home fire safety tips for winter healthyy According to Fire and Rescue NSW, statistics show that 43 per cent of all fire fatalities occur in winter.  Not surprisingly it is in the colder parts of the year that our use of heaters, clothing dryers and other electrical appliances tends to rise as we attempt to combat the cold. It is therefore of the utmost importance to remain aware of the potential dangers that can be present when such appliances are used and to maintain fire safety practices so that we can be sure to avoid tragic, unnecessary outcomes, such as loss of life and significant property damage. Fire and Rescue NSW provides an excellent winter fire safety checklist on their website that is a must-read for households at this time of the year. The following is a selection of tips and suggestions from Fire and Rescue NSW to help you make sure your home is fire safe:

Have an adequate number of suitable smoke alarms installed throughout your home and test them regularly

Never leave cooking unattended

If you have a fireplace make sure the chimney is clean and always place a screen in front of it when in use

Test electric blankets before use and check for damage or frayed cords before placing on beds

Test an electric blanket by laying it flat on top of bed and then switching it on for five minutes before putting it on the bed for use

Keep curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from portable heaters

Keep wet clothing at least one metre from heaters or fireplaces and never leave unattended

When using a clothes dryer clean the lint filter each and every time you use it

Always extinguish candles or any other open flames before going to bed

Store matches or lighters in a secure place not accessible to young children

Use only authorised installers of fixed heating appliances

Oil, gas or wood heating units may require a yearly maintenance check

Install an electrical safety switch and

If possible, keep a fire extinguisher and blanket in the kitchen placed near the exit.

Fires can be devastating events that in many cases are caused by avoidable circumstances. I implore you to protect your family and home from unnecessary death, injury and damage by taking simple steps to reduce the risks of a fire occurring, and in the case that it does occur, to ensure a quick and safe escape by the occupants of your home.