House fires are avoid­able

Win­ter heat­ing tips from Porirua’s fire safety of­fi­cer

Kapi-Mana News - - FIRE SAFETY -

Kitchen fires

Fires that start in the kitchen ac­count for more than 32 per cent of all struc­ture fires in the Porirua area, says fire safety of­fi­cer Rus­sell Postle­waight.

In all cases the fires were avoid­able, and in one in­stance the op­er­a­tion of the smoke alarm saved the oc­cu­pants’ lives.

There are two main rules to re­mem­ber, Mr Postle­waight says: Do not try to cook if you have been drink­ing and stay near the stove and watch chil­dren at all times when the stove and oven is be­ing used. Keep the stove clean and if you are un­cer­tain about its con­di­tion have it checked by a reg­is­tered elec­tri­cian.

Now is a good time to check the con­di­tion of the bat­tery in your smoke alarm.

If you don’t have one, in­stall one in the hall­way near the sleep­ing area of your home. Prefer­ably in­stall one in ev­ery bed­room. Do not in­stall a smoke alarm in your kitchen or close to the bath­room door as cook­ing fumes or shower steam may cause them to ac­ti­vate ac­ci­den­tally. If your smoke alarm ‘‘chirps’’, that’s an in­di­ca­tion that the bat­tery is go­ing flat. Re­place it im­me­di­ately. Do not just take it out and for­get about it. Ev­ery two or three months clean your smoke de­tec­tor by vac­u­um­ing it gen­tly with the soft brush fit­ting of your vac­uum cleaner. This will stop your smoke alarm los­ing its sen­si­tiv­ity Heaters While heaters of all types keep us warm dur­ing win­ter they do present a fire threat if not used as de­signed. Check all cords and fit­tings for signs of wear and dam- age. If in doubt take it to a qual­i­fied trades­man. Clean all re­flec­tors. A dull re­flec­tor can lower your heater’s per­for­mance; sim­ply clean­ing it can im­prove its ef­fi­ciency. Clean all fit­tings on your gas heater, check hoses for signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion and have your cylin­der checked reg­u­larly. Re­mem­ber the ‘‘ Heater- Me­tre’’ rule. Keep any flammable items such as clothes, cur­tains or chairs at least a me­tre from your heater. Open fires/wood burn­ers Have all chim­neys and flues swept an­nu­ally and in­spected for signs of crack­ing or fail­ure that could pos­si­bly con­trib­ute to the spread of a fire in the roof space of your home. Make sure that there is at least a 100mm gap be­tween metal flues and any tim­ber­work. Re­move and clean thor­oughly all grates and fire­box in­te­ri­ors to min­imise any solid ash buildup. Check chim­ney and flue cowls for any for­eign items such as birds’ nests that will pre­vent a good draught or be­come a flammable ob­struc­tion. Re­mem­ber to dis­pose of all ashes in a metal con­tainer out­side as they can re­tain their heat for quite some time. Down­lights If you are plan­ning to in­stall down­lights at home, make sure that you move the in­su­la­tion in the ceil­ing area away from the light fit­ting. Heat is gen­er­ated by the light and into the in­su­la­tion with the con­se­quence of fire if it is not moved. Have a qual­i­fied elec­tri­cian do the in­stal­la­tion. More in­for­ma­tion is found at the En­ergy Safety Author­ity web­site. Can­dles If you have to use can­dles, use them safely. Stand them in a wide flat-bot­tom con­tainer to pre­vent tip­ping over. Re­mem­ber, a can­dle is a small fire. Keep it at least a me­tre away from any­thing flammable, and fi­nally, keep can­dles and matches away from chil­dren. Fire is a tool, not a toy.

For any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion contact your lo­cal fire sta­tion or in the Porirua-Kapi Mana area call Fire Safety Of­fi­cer Rus­sell Postle­waight on 04 237 6939.

Down­light downer: Make sure ceil­ing in­su­la­tion is kept well clear of down­lights.

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