Temperatures to plunge to a low of four degrees across the Central Highlands.
Temperatures to plunge to a low of four degrees across the Central Highlands.

Winter weather brings increased risk of house fires

WINTER has officially arrived, bringing cooler temperatures and an increased risk of house fires.

Emerald is expected to see a minimum of eight degrees celsius this week, and a top of 25 degrees. Clermont is expected to drop to six degrees and Springsure to a minimum of four degrees on Thursday.

Many households, if they haven’t already, will bring out the heaters, electric blankets or start the fires to keep warm through the season.

While it seems completely innocent, data has shown these winter warmers are some of the most common causes of house fires.

RACQ spokeswoman Lucinda Ross said insurance claims revealed home fires were most commonly caused by mechanical or electrical faults, with 280 claims for home fires caused by appliance issues in the last three years.

“With temperatures dropping rapidly across the State, there’ll be plenty of old heaters and electric blankets pulled out of the cupboard,” Ms Ross said.

“It’s really important every homeowner completes a thorough check of the appliance to avoid running the risk of a home fire this winter.”

She said cooking incidents rated as the second most common cause of a home fire claim.

Acting Station Officer for Emerald, Darryl Reay says there are a few simple steps people can take to ensure their own safety.

He said electric blankets that had been folded in storage may have kinks that could cause hot spots and result in fire.

“Any electrical equipment, electric blankets, electric or oil heaters, or anything put away over the warmer months, get them checked and professionally test and tagged,” Mr Reay said.

“If there’s any doubt, just discard it and get a new one.”

He said it was important to turn all hot items off if unattended to prevent accidents with children or pets and to keep towels and clothing off heaters.

“If you’re going to be leaving the house at any time, turn off any electrical heaters, dampen or restrain open fires as much as possible and have at least one window open to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house,” Mr Reay said.