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Winter fire safety tips can save lives

Winter fire safety tips can save lives

Housing New Zealand is urging its tenants to follow the New Zealand Fire Service’s winter fire safety messages after a recent spate of fires.

Unattended cooking and a clothes dryer are thought to have caused five fires in state houses across the country in the last two weeks.

Housing New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Paul Commons says fitted smoke alarms in the properties did their job by alerting the occupants to the fire early and no-one was hurt, but the fires caused significant damage and at least one family has to be re-housed because the property was uninhabitable.

“This means the damaged house is not readily available to the next family waiting to get in a state house. All because some tenants are not following some basic fire safety advice which could not only prevent these fires but save their lives and the lives of their loved ones.’’

Housing New Zealand takes the health and safety of its tenants seriously but also expects them to take personal responsibility by ensuring they follow the New Zealand Fire Service’s simple advice and tips on fire safety, especially at this time of year.

Todd O’Donoghue, National Fire Risk Management advisor for the New Zealand Fire Service says many house fires are easily preventable, and there are a range of simple steps people can take to safeguard their homes and families.

These include:

Heaters and clothes dryers

• After kitchen fires, incidents involving heating and drying are the next most common reason the Fire Service is called out

• Remember the heater-meter rule – always keep furniture, curtains, clothes and children at least one metre away from heaters and fireplaces

• Don’t store objects on top of your heating appliance

• Never cover heating appliances

• Don’t overload clothes dryers and clean the lint filter after each load cycle

Electric blankets

• Worn and old electric blankets can cause an electric shock, fire and possibly even death

• At the first sign of wear, have your electric blanket checked by a qualified electrician

• Replace your electric blanket every five years with newer heat-protected models which are safer

• Don’t place heavy objects on the bed while the blanket is on

Kitchen/cooking

• If you must leave the room, turn off the stove

• Clean your stove grill after each use to prevent the build up of spilled fats and burnt foods

• Clean rangehood filters regularly

• Curtains, tea towels, oven mitts and any flammable items should be kept well away from the cooking area

• Never throw water on to a frypan that’s on fire

• If you do have a fire on your stove, try (if you can) to turn the power or gas off either at the stove or at the mains

ENDS

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