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Top tips to put a freeze on home fires this winter

22 June 2018

Suncorp is urging Australians to protect themselves against the risk of house fires this winter, as many parts of the country face the coolest days in years.

Suncorp’s home insurance claims from 2012 to 2017* revealed house fires across the country spike in winter, with claims increasing by 12 per cent, compared to autumn.

Suncorp spokesperson Ashleigh Paterson said now is the time of year when many of us pull out our heaters and electric blankets for the first time to seek reprieve from the cooler weather, but we need to be mindful of the risks while keeping warm.

“The main causes of house fires include embers escaping from open fire places, faulty heaters and electric blankets or heaters getting knocked over – all things which can be easily avoided,” said Ms Paterson.  

“Far too many people are still taking risks, such as leaving electric blankets on overnight, leaving fires and candles unattended and placing heaters in high foot traffic areas of their home or too close to flammable house hold items.”

Suncorp encourages Australians to check their smoke alarms are working and to clean their bathroom heat lamps of dust and lint to minimise the risk of explosions.

“Simple steps like checking appliances and heating equipment are key to avoiding the devastation of a house fires, so it’s critical that Australians take the proper precautions,” Ms Paterson said.

“If they’re not working properly, or you’re suspicious for any reason at all, we urge you to get them checked by a professional or replace them.”

Suncorp’s data shows Victoria had the most winter fire claims, while New South Wales saw the largest increase from summer to winter (17 per cent). Queensland fire claims also spiked in winter by 12 per cent, compared to autumn.

Suncorp home fire claims 2012-2017*

State

Summer

Autumn

Winter

Spring

Total

Victoria

1822

1514

1661

1541

6538

NSW

1200

1211

1449

1220

5080

Queensland

1262

1094

1237

1180

4773

National

5451

4786

5456

4958

20651

* Includes claims from Suncorp insurance brands Suncorp Insurance, AAMI, GIO, Apia, Shannons, Vero and Resilium.

Tips to avoid fires this winter

  • Switch electric blankets off while sleeping or when leaving the house
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended or too close to flammable items such as books or curtains
  • Place heaters at least a metre away from anything flammable and do not place them in high foot traffic areas
  • Never leave an open fire burning when you go to bed or leave the house and always place a screen of guard in front of open fires
  • Unattended cooking can easily cause a fire, so always stay in the kitchen when cooking, turn off the stove before you leave, or ask someone to watch the cooking
  • Clean lint filters in the clothes dryer before or after each use
  • Don’t overload power boards
  • Don’t use LPG cylinders for cooking or heating indoors as they can leak and the gas is both toxic and highly explosive
  • Ensure you have a working smoke alarm

Common winter home fire claims

  • Fireplace logs and embers escaping
  • Faulty chimney flues
  • Electric heater failures or heaters being knocked over
  • Sparks and heat from gas heaters
  • Electric blanket failures
  • Bathroom heat lamps exploding
  • Ducted heating failures

Media

James Spence   0436 457 886

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