As the cold front hits, check your heaters

As Victorians retrieve their heaters from hibernation, the risk of house fires increases.


Going to bed? Turn off your heater

Deputy Chief Officer Gavin Freeman said autumn and winter were the highest risk period for residential fires due to the increased use of home heating.

Home heating includes fixed electrical and gas-powered appliances, an open fire, wood heater and portable electrical heaters or those which use gas or kerosene.

“Many residential fires that result in fatalities or serious injuries start in sleeping and living areas,” he said.

“Most of these fires are caused by of heating systems, appliances and equipment.

“Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended; turn off heaters before leaving the room, and make sure fireplace embers are extinguished before leaving your house or going to bed.”

DCO Freeman said it was important Victorians checked their heaters to ensure they remained in good working condition. Ideally, heaters should be professionally serviced every two years.

“CFA attend a large number of preventable house fires. These fires can have devastating consequences, significant injuries and tragically, some fires result in deaths.”

DCO Freeman said poorly maintained gas fires could also cause deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.

“We have seen the tragic consequences of this in the past,” he said.

“There can be no greater reason to have your gas heater inspected and serviced than to ensure the safety of loved ones.

“Another common mistake that people make is drying clothes indoors near heaters and fireplaces, which can be dangerous. Clothes should be kept at least one metre from the heat source.

“Every household should consider their fire safety practices and examine the potential risks around their home.”

There are a number of ways people can prepare for winter:

  • Turn off all heating and extinguish open fires before going out or going to bed.
  • Ensure heaters are installed, maintained and operated according to manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Keep clothing, curtains or toys one metre away from heaters.
  • Always use a fire screen in front of an open fire.
  • Chimneys and flues should be cleaned annually.
  • Keep wood and other combustibles at least one metre from fire.
  • Children must be supervised near all types of heating. Maintain a safe distance between children and heating. 

Author: Miranda Schooneveldt