Protect your family from a house fire this winter

It’s not unusual that fatal house fires dominate the headlines in winter. PRM Business Manager and Emergency Management Consultant, ​​Aaron Gormly, says there are a few essential things we can do this winter to keep our families safe.
house fires in winter

According to Fire and Rescue NSW there are more than 1100 house fires every winter. At this time of year it only takes a few seconds on Google to find stories about house fires all over the headlines. 

PRM Business Manager and Emergency Management Consultant, ​​Aaron Gormly, says misuse of heating sources and smoke detection are two of the biggest concerns when it comes to fires in the home. 

“Installation and testing of smoke detection in workplaces is highly regulated but we don’t sleep there,” says Aaron.

“When it comes to the home there are regulations for what type of smoke alarm to install and where they must go, but are we as diligent in selecting the right ones and maintaining them, like we are in the workplace?”

It’s important to take this same high level of care at home if we’re going to avoid fatal house fires this winter.

Installing a smoke detector in your bedroom 

Home regulations call for one smoke detector to be placed in the hallway, or common area, outside sleeping areas. But did you know smoke alarms do not work through closed doors? 

“If you’re someone who sleeps with your door closed you will not hear a smoke alarm that’s triggered in the hallway or common area,” warns Aaron. 

“That means people who sleep with their door shut do not have smoke and fire detection and early notification in their bedroom. This concern is ramped up when we take extra heating into the bedroom in winter.”

If children, teens, or elderly people kick their bed covers off during the night, and have extra heating in the bedroom – this can be a fatal issue.  

According to Building Fire Safety (Domestic Smoke Alarms) Legislation Amendment Regulation 2016, ‘research has shown that in order to wake sleeping residents smoke alarms must produce at least 75 decibels of sound at the bedhead. The Australian Standard governing smoke alarm design (AS 3786) states that smoke alarms must produce at least 85 decibels three metres from the alarm.

‘If an alarm positioned in the hallway activates, the sound level at the bed head could be as low as 36 decibels if the person sleeps with the door closed. This would not provide the necessary sound level to awaken residents. Installing smoke alarms in bedrooms is the most effective way of producing the necessary alert to wake a sleeping person.’

Fire Services recommend people install photo-electric smoke alarms in the home. This is even better if they are interconnected. 

“You can buy 10-year lithium smoke alarm from Bunnings, electrical wholesaler or other hardware shops,” advises Aaron. 

“Smoke alarms are installed at the highest point on the ceiling as per manufacturer’s instructions. And interconnected alarms are even more effective because if one alarm goes off, they all go off,” says Aaron. 

4 fire safety tips to protect your home this winter:

  1. Install working interconnected photo-electric smoke alarms in and around sleeping areas in your home. 
  2. Do not leave cooking unattended.
  3. Keep all combustibles at least one metre from any heating source. 
  4. Discard and replace old style bar element heaters where possible and replace with an oil column heater or similar. Avoid a red hot bar you have to get close to to get warm. 

Did you know we have no sense of smell when we’re sleeping? Follow this link to learn more. 

If you have any more questions please phone your local fire station, or contact us