WINTER has arrived with a vengeance and with it has come increased fire risks and warnings about the dangers of electric blankets and heaters. Superintendent Greg Tomlinson, Gold Coast zone commander for Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, warned there was an increase in house fires during colder months. He said this coincided with electric blankets and heaters coming back into action. “They need some maintenance and service, such as checking the plugs and wires to make sure there are no frayed leads,” he said. “An electrician can also check electric blankets and heaters to make sure they are all safe before people start using them. “An important message to get out there is if your appliance is damaged, get it repaired or throw it out.” The superintendent said fires could be caused from electric blankets if there were faults or breaks in the fine wires inside the blanket. These could be caused by storing the blanket in a tightly-folder manner in a cupboard during summer months. Another no-no was sleeping with an electric blanket on. “With heaters, we encourage people to keep a clear space of one metre around a heater,” he said. “Portable heaters should always be in a stable position, a safe distance away from bedding, clothing, curtains and tablecloths.” Supt Tomlinson urged locals to be very mindful of not overloading circuits with electrical appliances during winter. “And if you’re using an open fire place or fire pit to keep warm, make sure you have the correct protection in front of your fire place,” he warned. “Fire pits should never be left unattended and make sure they are completely extinguished. Keep pets and flammable objects away from them.” Supt Tomlinson also urged locals to make sure their smoke alarms were in working order and that they had an escape plan in the event of fire. “Practice it with your family,” he said. According to Qld Fire and Emergency, there were 58 fires in homes in the Gold Coast North and Gold Coast South area between June 1 and August 31 last year. The leading cause was heat from properly operating electrical equipment (20), while 14 causes were undetermined and only four fires were caused by improperly operating electrical equipment. Interestingly, most house fires were in kitchen and dining areas (32), followed by garages, carports or vehicle storage areas (4). There were also four fires in bedrooms and four in lounge rooms. Article By LAURA NELSON – Gold Coast Bulletin – Source Link – June 6, 2019 4:53pm