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Research reveals most common causes for winter home fires

14 Jun 2017

Leading insurer Suncorp is urging residents to take precautions against the risk of fire this winter, with new research revealing that Victoria leads the country for home fire claims during the cooler months, followed by New South Wales and Queensland. 

Analysis of Suncorp’s home claims from 2011 to 2016* shows that fires across the country spike during winter – increasing by 23 per cent compared to autumn.  

While Victoria has the most fire claims during the winter, the largest spike occurs in New South Wales. Fires in New South Wales during winter increase by 47 per cent compared to summer, and 29 per cent compared to autumn. South Australia’s fire claims also spike by 27 per cent compared to autumn. 

Some of the common causes of these fires include embers escaping from open fire places, and faulty electric blankets and heaters. 

Suncorp is also urging residents to clean their bathroom heat lamps of dust and lint to minimise the risk of explosions. 

“Now that winter has arrived, it’s critical that you do not become complacent to fire risks as you try to stay warm,” Suncorp spokesperson Michael Mills said.

“Far too many people still take dangerous risks during winter, such as leaving electric blankets on overnight and leaving open flames unattended, even for only a short time. 

“These behaviours can lead to devastating and easily avoidable house fires, so it’s critical that residents take the proper precautions.

“Now is the time to check your appliances and heating equipment. If they don’t appear to be working properly, get them checked by a professional or replace them.”

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

Common tips to avoid winter home fires

  • Electric blankets should be switched off while sleeping or when leaving the house. Blankets should also be inspected carefully for wear and tear at the beginning of winter.
  • Burning candles left unattended or left too close to flammable items such as books or curtains can easily burst into flames. Always place a candle on a fireproof plate and remember to blow it out before leaving the room.
  • Electric heaters often cause fires because they either have faulty wiring, or are left too close to lounges, curtains or other furnishings. Portable heaters should be placed at least a metre away from anything flammable.
  • Sparks and embers from open fires can float out of the fireplace after you’ve gone to bed. Never leave an open fire burning when you go to bed or leave the house and always place a mesh guard in front of open fires.
  • Cooking left unattended can cause a fire very easily so it’s important to always stay in the room, turn off the stove if you must leave, or ask someone to watch the cooking.

For more information contact:  Michael Mills – 0405 805 489 -


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

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