A fire in your home can be devastating, even fatal.
Young children, older people, people with a disability and smokers are at a higher risk of being injured or not surviving a fire in their home.
There is a lot you can do to help prevent a fire from occurring in your home and to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Look out for fire hazards and keep your home fire safe.
Home Fire Safety Booklet
Cooking in the kitchen is the single largest cause of fires in the home - approximately 40% of house fires start in the kitchen.
Cooking left unattended is the most common cause of kitchen fires - pay attention while cooking and turn off the stove, cooktop, oven and other heat sources before leaving home or going to sleep.
- Cooking should only be done in the kitchen; it is unsafe to cook elsewhere in a home.
- Keep stove top, griller, oven, range hood and cooking area free from built up grease, dust and oil.
- Always supervise children in the kitchen. Keep them away from stove top and oven. Keep pot handles turned in.
- Keep items that could burn at least one metre away from cooking and heat sources.
- Make sure kitchen appliances are clean and in good working order.
- A fire extinguisher and fire blanket should be stored within easy reach but away from the cooking area. FRV recommends that you only use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket if you feel physically and mentally able to use this equipment safely.
- If you are experiencing difficulty cooking safely consider approaching your local council or a private provider for assistance in preparing or delivering meals.
Electrical items in the home including the power supply, fixed appliances, portable appliances, double adaptors, power boards and extension leads are a common cause of home fires.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any electrical appliance.
- All electrical equipment should have an Australian Standard or a Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM)
- Only use appliances in good working order. Use certified electrical tradespeople to repair damaged or faulty electrical appliances, wiring or equipment
- Maintain good airflow around monitors, laptops, televisions and other equipment – ensure they are not in confined spaces or covered.
- Only use approved charging devices. Charge devices on surfaces that do not burn. Unplug them as soon as they are charged fully.
- Turn off all electrical appliances at the power point when not in use.
- Cool down hairdryers and hair straighteners before storing and don’t leave them on surfaces that can burn.
- Only plug in one electrical device per outlet. Never overload power boards and check regularly for damage. Only use approved power boards that have a cut-off switch and meet Australian Standards. Avoid using double adaptors
- Always let the clothes dryer complete the cool cycle before stopping. Clean the lint filter before each use.
- If your home was built more than 30 years ago, get your wiring checked by a licensed electrician.
Heaters can include fixed electrical and gas powered appliances, an open fire, wood heater/slow combustion heater or portable heaters including electrical, gas and kerosene heaters.
Heaters are a major cause of fires, especially during winter.
- All heaters should be installed and operated according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure home heating, including flues and chimneys, are regularly cleaned and serviced by a certified technician.
- Energy Safe Victoria recommends gas heaters (including outdoor LPG units) are checked by qualified personnel every two years.
- If you suspect a fault in a heater, have it serviced or replaced immediately.
- Replace old portable heaters with models that incorporate automatic cut-out, thermostat control and anti-roll features.
- Children must be supervised near all types of heating - maintain a safe distance between children and the heating.
- Choose low fire-risk children's nightwear styled to be close fitting and made of less flammable material - look for the fire risk label.
- Keep drying clothes and other items that can burn at least one metre away from all heating.
- Always use a fire screen in front of an open fire.
- Turn off all heating and extinguish open fires before leaving home or going to sleep.
- Check that embers are cold before disposal.
- Portable outdoor gas heaters and cylinders should never be used indoors.
Smoking materials (cigarettes, pipes, cigars) are a major cause of ignition of fatal residential fires in Australia.
Smokers are over-represented in residential fire fatalities and injuries.
Carelessly discarded cigarettes have caused significant fires in multi-storey buildings.
Fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials are preventable.
Here are some ways to reduce your risk:
- Smoke outside in a designated area that is free of flammable materials
- If smoking does take place inside the home, make sure that there are working smoke alarms installed in all rooms in which it takes place
- Never smoke in bed - smoking in bed or while falling asleep while smoking is the leading cause of smoking fire related deaths.
- Refrain from smoking when under the influence of alcohol, drugs and some medications - the risk of fire is much higher when affected by these
- Never leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- Extinguish cigarettes in heavy high-sided ashtrays and ensure they are out before disposal - place the ashtray on a solid and stable surface.
- Wet down butts to ensure that they are fully extinguished is recommended.
- Keep all lighters, matches and cigarettes out of reach of children at all times.
- Do not smoke where medical oxygen is in use
- E-cigarettes should be used, charged and transported with caution.
Candles, incense and oil burners are often used for social, cultural or religious practices.
It is vital to use these open flames safely to avoid starting a fire.
Never leave a child alone in a room with a lit flame.
Candles, incense and oil burners should:
- not be used in bedrooms and other areas where people may fall asleep
- only be used on stable uncluttered surfaces that won’t burn
- only be used under adult supervision
- be used at least one metre away from curtains and other items that can burn
- be kept out of reach of children and pets – when lit or unlit
- be extinguished before you leave home or go to sleep
- not be used if oxygen is used in the home
- be lit carefully - keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame
- Consider an alternative to an open flame like a battery-operated candle or torch.
Reviewed 04 August 2022