How to Avoid Fires

To reduce the risk of fire occurring in homes, some simple steps can be adopted.

In the Kitchen

Almost half of all house fires start in the kitchen. Below are ways and means by which we can reduce the chances of a fire accident

  • Cooking should never be left unattended.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while cooking and turn off the stove before you leave.
  • Accidents can happen very quickly. To limit the risk of scald and burns to children ensure pot handles are turned inwards.
  • Fabrics and loose clothing can catch fire easily. Keep your clothing away from heat. Tie back long hair to prevent accidents.
  • Ensure curtains are kept away from the stove.
  • Don’t store your tea towel over the oven handle.
  • Many substances in the kitchen are dangerous. Flammable materials such as pressure packs, cleaning agents and cooking oils should be stored away from heat.
  • Combustibles such as tea towels and paper towels must be kept away from cooking and heat sources.
  • Ensure all hazardous substances and medications are stored out of the reach of children.
  • Make sure kitchen appliances are clean and in good working order.
  • Never use water to put out a fat or oil fire.
  • Heat oils carefully as hot oils and fats catch fire easily.


Electric Fires

  • The build-up of grease, dust and dirt can fuel a fire. All electrical appliances including toasters, air conditioners and filters on range hoods and clothes dryers need regular cleaning.
  • Fire caused by damaged and frayed cords can be prevented. Cords on electrical appliances need regular checking.
  • It is recommended that any repair to an electrical appliance be done by a licensed professional.
  • Improper use of power boards and double adaptors can lead to fires.
  • A double adaptor or a power board plugged into another double adaptor or power board can create a danger of overloading the system.
  • Incorrect use of extension cords can cause fires.
  • Leaving an extension cord coiled while in use or placing a cord under floor coverings can cause overheating.
  • Use a single extension cord rather than joining shorter cords.
  • Be careful to keep electrical appliances away from water.
  • Be aware of the dangers of leaving or using electrical equipment around water.
  • Hair dryers and straighteners take time to cool down so allow them to cool on a non-combustible surface before storing.
  • Light globes can become very hot. Don’t cover a lamp with any type of fabric. To dim a lamp it is recommended that a globe with a lower wattage is used. Keep bathroom heat lamps clean of dust build up.
  • Computers, monitors, gaming consoles, TVs, VCR and DVD players can overheat and cause fires even when not in use. They should be turned off after each session. Good air circulation is necessary around TVs, VCR and DVD players.
  • Ensure powered electrical appliances like hairdryers, hair straighteners and laptops are not left on bedding.


Open Flames

  • Inappropriate disposal of cigarettes can cause a fire. Dampen cigarette butts before disposing of them. Smoking in bed is extremely dangerous.
  • Candles should be lit only when they are well away from curtains and open windows and should never be left alight when you leave the room. An adult should be present at all times when a candle is being used. Decorative candles can be dangerous if allowed to totally burn down.
  • Children should never be allowed to have access to matches or lighters. Place candles on a level, fire resistant surface out of the reach of children. It is recommended that smokers use only child proof lighters and deep ashtrays. Smokers should only have one lighter in the house and know where it is at all times.


Heaters & Open Fires

  • When having your heater installed ensure you correctly follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure space is left between the heater and the wall. Flues and chimneys require cleaning once a year.
  • Strong fire screens should be securely placed in front of open fires. Firewood must be stored away from the fire. Young children must be supervised at all times in rooms where there are open fires or working heaters.
  • To protect children, check that their night clothes are labelled ‘Low Fire Danger’. Natural fabrics, especially wool, have a ‘Low Fire Danger’.
  • Never leave anything flammable such as curtains, clothing, bedding and children’s toys within one metre of a heater. Never place clothing on or near heaters and fires. Before you retire for the night or leave your house, ensure fires are extinguished and heaters are turned off at their power source.
  • Electric blankets, If not stored and used correctly may start fires. Make sure you have stored your electric blanket safely. Store flat if possible and with nothing on top of it to damage wiring. When you take an electric blanket out in winter, check that the wires are completely flat and undamaged.
  • Warm your bed by turning your electric blanket on for half an hour before you retire. Then turn it off at the controls and the power source as you go to bed.
  • Clothes Dryers – Lint is a combustible material. Lint filters need cleaning prior to every load. Allow the dryer to complete its ‘Cool Down’ cycle to prevent overheating. Always ensure there is adequate air flow around a dryer. When not in use, dryers should be turned off at their power source. Similarly, dryers should be turned off before you retire for the night or leave your home.


Before leaving home for a holiday complete this check list.

1.  Test your smoke alarms and change the batteries if required.

2.  Switch off and unplug non-essential electrical appliances and IT equipment.

3.  Let a neighbour or family friend know your contact details and whereabouts. Ask them to call the Fire Brigade, if your smoke alarm activates.

4.  If you live in a bushfire prone area, prepare your home properly before you leave. Ensure gutters are clear of leaves and debris and all combustible materials such as leaves, grass, timber and paper have been removed from around your home.

5.  Close all internal doors before you leave to help contain any fire that occurs.



This information was obtained from Eureka Forbes