Make sure your heaters are safe this winter
AS TEMPERATURES drop and winter sets in, Queenslanders are being urged to check their heating appliances before using them for warmth and comfort.
Fire Minister Jo-Ann Miller said each winter, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services responded to many fires started after electrical appliances were misused or not properly maintained.
"Faulty or poorly maintained heating equipment caused 20 residential structure fires last winter," Minister Miller said.
"Our winter is not as harsh as down south, but everyone should remember that the majority of houses in Queensland are not built for the cold, so portable heaters are often used to provide warmth.
"Heater-related fires often happen because appliances are placed too close to flammable materials like blankets, mattresses, pillows or clothing.
"Of the 15 people who died in house fires in 2014, nine lost their lives in winter and this winter we want to put a freeze on fire fatalities."
Minister Miller said older heaters caused the most concern.
"New heaters have the added benefit of additional safety features, whereas older style heaters may not," Minister Miller said.
"Many older residents may still be using heaters that are years old, so it's a good idea to pop around to see your elderly parents or grandparents to make sure it's safe to use.
"Regardless of the age of the appliance, whether it be a heater or an electric blanket, it is crucial these appliances be checked every year for fraying, or exposed cords, or rust.
"QFES recommends these checks are performed by a qualified electrician," Minister Miller said.
QFES Acting Commissioner Katarina Carroll urged parents to be aware of potential dangers associated with children's clothing, particularly nightwear.
"Children's clothing can be highly flammable, so parents need to be taking the time to read labels on clothing," Acting Commissioner Carroll said.
"It is also important for parents to educate children on the dangers of playing near heaters.
"Be mindful to keep children well away from heaters and never leave children unsupervised around heating equipment."
QFES offers a free service to assist residents with fire safety around their home.
To book a Safehome visit, call 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or visit www.qfes.qld.gov.au.