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Winter is here… officially here. There really is nothing worse than having to step out of your covers early in the morning or late at night because you just know that as soon as your feet touch the ground, you’re going to be greeted with a treacherous chill. It’s probably why we love technology so much, and in this particular case, heaters. During the unbearably cold days, many tend to sleep with a heater running to stay warm. However, is this really safe to do so?

How Many Home Fires are Caused By Heaters?

In 2017, approximately 60 out of 100,000 homes were victims of accidental residential fires in Queensland. While this number may not seem a lot, it’s important to keep in mind that a household generally consists of 3-4 members, putting accidental fires at risk of injuring hundreds of people each year. A residential fire is dangerous enough. Imagine having one without even realising? Many of these fires occur as a result of the incorrect use of electrical appliances, heaters and open flames. Of these fires, the leading cause was electricity. Electricity has become much safer to use compared to before, you almost never have to worry about igniting a fire unless the appliance is being misused. Electrical appliances dissipate heat. This heat can ignite a fire when its around materials that easily burn. For example, placing a lamp near curtains for hours on end can result in a fire due to excessive heat. CGU also outlines open flames and heaters as other common causes resulting in unintentional house fires.

Additionally, heating appliances that have collected dust over time and haven’t been cleaned are at a high chance of catching alight. Other factors that increase the likelihood of a house fire include using an old heater, a poorly maintained heater, or keeping the heater on at its maximum capacity for too long. However, heaters aren’t hazardous equipment. With proper maintenance and use, a good quality heater can be used for years without any trouble. So, as much as we love our warmth, we need to be mindful of the proper ways to use it. Here are the best ways of safely using a heater to keep yourself warm.

Keeping Your House Safe From Fires

     1. Read up on the Qld Fire Safety Measure

Fires can occur when you least expect them, which is why it is always best to take precaution when it comes to fires. Here is a list of insightful and comprehensive measures published by the Queensland government on preventing fires. New legislations have been put in place to make QLD homes the safest from fires in Australia. This new legislation requires all QLD dwellings to contain photoelectric smoke alarms on each level. This 10-year rollout began in 2017 and is still currently being implemented.

     2. Photoelectric alarms

There are generally two different types of smoke alarms used, ionisation and photoelectric smoke alarm. Ionisation smoke alarms are the most commonly used to date. Ionisation alarms are quicker at detecting flame and fast-moving fires. They consist of small radioactive particles sitting between two electrically charged plates. When smoke enters, it disrupts the current, resulting in the fire alarm being set off. Photoelectric alarm systems have been deemed more effective for homes. Some of its characteristics include:

  • They are able to detect visible particles of combustion.
  • Less prone to be set off by false alarms from cooking or steam emitted in bathrooms.
  • They do not contain any radioactive material 
  • Better at detecting smouldering fires and smoke emitted from foam-filled furnishings and over-heated PVC wires

heater flame house fire

     3. The Safehome Program

In addition to these tips, to help you identify safety concerns, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have implemented an initiative, Safehome. Safehome is a program designed to ensure a safer community. You can book a free inspection with a fire station nearest to you and have them inspect your house. Once a check is done, they will advise you of any safety concerns or changes you may need to take, if any. If you are interested in booking an appointment, visit this page.

Keeping Your House Warm This Winter

1. Pulling your blinds and windows shut

There are several ways to keep your home warm without having to use a heater. Similar to Summer months, where we pull the blinds to stop the scorching rays of the sun from entering our house, in the same way, pulling your blinds during winter helps keep out cold air. Ensuring your windows and blinds are completely closed off can make a drastic difference in the internal temperature of your home.

2. Electric blankets and bedsheets

Additionally, consider investing in an electric blanket. This is electrically wired to provide heating. If you have used an electric blanket before, you may have found yourself feeling warm and cozy for a while before overheating and sweating from the heat emitted from the blanket. Many tend not to go for this option due to the safety concerns associated with it. However, new and safer innovations are being rolled out every day to combat overheating by shutting off the flow of electricity before it overheats. And these aren’t just available in blanket form. You can now buy electric bedsheets and bed covers, which have been said to provide more comfort.

3. Blankets made out of thermal material

Sometimes, regular blankets just don’t suffice on those extra chilly nights. In which case, you should consider buying a blanket made from thermal materials such as fleece, velvet or wool. These work by keeping warm air under the covers while reflecting cold air out. So, body heat released stays within the blanket, constantly keeping you warm and comfortable.

4. Draft door seals

Use draft door seals. These can easily be purchased online at Bunnings for example. These seals assist by preventing cold air from seeping through gaps. If you need an immediate fix to this particular problem, you can also use clothes and other materials and place them under the door as a temporary fix.

5. Split System Air Conditioners

Use a split system air conditioner. It may be strange to think of air conditioners as a way of keeping warm. However, using air conditioners during the winter months is starting to become fairly common with the introduction of split system air conditioners. These air conditioners function to provide warmer temperatures, allowing it to be of use even during the winter season. This innovation saves costs and energy, making the process of living in a seasonal country much easier.

If you have never owned a split system air conditioner or are installing one for the first time in your home, it is a good idea to gain expert advice. An expert would be able to help you decide the right type of air conditioner you should buy based on your needs, your budget, type and size of the room, and installation requirements.

air conditioning airrite bedroom

Want some hot tips?

#1  Keeping your air conditioner between 24-26 degrees uses the least amount of energy, making air conditioners an affordable appliance to use. Most top brands have a range of great split system air conditioners to choose from including brands such as Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Toshiba.

#2  To use your split system air condition as economically as possible, use the timer feature on the remote to set on and off times so you aren’t using it unnecessarily. Or better yet, ensure your air conditioner has a thermostat function. This provides you with peace of mind, knowing your air con will not overheat, and neither will you.

#3   Willing to fork out a little extra? If so, you might consider getting a ducted system air conditioner. This model of air conditioner works similar to a split system air conditioner with one exception – it can provide heating/ cooling to multiple rooms at once. They consist of a series of ducts that can be installed in some or all of the rooms in your house. These ducts have a central control system so you can change the setting for each individual room from a central location. You can even adjust the temperature of each room individually, allowing different settings in different parts of the house. It also produces less noise and can be hidden discreetly, helping maintain the decor of your house.

The biggest advantage of a split system air conditioner is the worry-free experience it will provide. Running the risk of a fire with a split system air conditioner is rare if not non-existent altogether. Of course, like any heating appliance, it can overheat, however, if you maintain it well and keep it at a moderate temperature, you’ll definitely stay cozy and comfortable all year round.

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