7 fire safety tips for the holidays
This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been updated.
- Test your smoke alarms regularly
- Don’t overload power boards or piggyback double adaptors
- Keep children and pets away from lights, candles and matches.
Here are seven tips to help keep you and your family safe over the holidays and ready for a happy new year.
1. Set up a secure tree
Are Christmas trees fire hazards? In short – they could be. So if you’ve decided to put up an artificial tree, make sure it’s fire retardant and is set up well away from any open flames. Prefer the real thing? Real trees are less flammable, but it’s still important to make sure they are set up in a safe location.
Your tree will be heavier than it looks when it’s covered in decorations. It may also be a magnet for inquisitive children and pets. Secure your tree in a heavy pot or stand to prevent it from toppling over.
2. Connect lights safely
Before you set up your festive fairy or Christmas lights, check for worn plugs and frayed cords, and ensure they have an Australian Standards label.
It is good practice not to piggyback double adaptors at power outlets and choose power boards with overload and earth leakage protection. Also, make sure outdoor lights are designed for outdoor use.
Lights can get hot, so keep them away from inquisitive little fingers. And remember to switch all lights off before you go to bed or leave the house.
3. Keep kids away from candles
With kids likely to be around the home more during school holidays, it’s important to remember children can be drawn to flames. That candle you’ve been burning while working from home? Time to move it and the matches out of reach. For tips on fire safety for kids, take a look at this Children and Fire Fascination guide.
Always place candles well away from Christmas trees, wrapping paper, curtains, open windows and anything flammable that could catch alight. And never leave a candle unattended.
4. Tis’ the season to barbeque
Summer gatherings and barbeques often go hand in hand, but there can be risks involved. So, before you unleash your inner MasterChef, take a few minutes to prepare.
Firstly, ensure your barbeque is on a level base in a ventilated area sheltered from the wind. Keep matches and children well away, and have a water source, or even better, a fire extinguisher close by. You can find information on gas safety tips in this LPG Cylinder Safety Check List.
Before you light up, give the BBQ a clean, taking care to remove excess fat that could cause flare-ups. When you finish cooking, turn off the gas firmly.
5. Test smoke alarms
Smoke alarms are essential all year round, so check your batteries are working, and if in doubt, replace with new ones. The effort to ensure smoke alarms are in working order is minimal and could save a life. Fire and Rescue NSW recommends you test your smoke alarms monthly, clean it with a vacuum cleaner every six months, replace the battery yearly, and replace the smoke alarm unit every 10 years1.
6. Store chemicals carefully
With the warmer weather upon us, many of us are spending more time maintaining our gardens and pools. Refuel garden equipment out in the open, and after handling toxic chemicals, seal all containers tightly. Store in a cool, well ventilated area, well out of reach of children.
7. Check your home insurance
No matter how careful you are, it’s reassuring to know you’re covered in the event of a fire. To make sure you’ve got the right cover, check your PDS to understand your cover and review the sum insured values you’ve nominated on your policy annually. To estimate how much cover you need, try the sum insured online calculator.