Checks can save lives

IT HAPPENS every year and every year reminders go out – but firefighters still have to repeat safety messages for householders.

Too many of us ignore the warning signs or are too blase to update their protection. 

And, according to Tamworth Fire and Rescue station commander Phil Cox, with that early blast of winter recently and the change of season just around the corner, it is more important than ever to do a bit of household preparation. The top three things he recommended people do are: test your smoke alarms; clean out your chimneys; and check your electric blankets.

Electric blankets should be checked by an authorised electrician.

He said you should never fold your electric blanket when you store it: always roll it up, so you don’t stress or snap the coils.

“They can break down over a period of time and short out inside,” Mr Cox said.

“When storing, they shouldn’t be folded – they should be rolled.”

LESSEN FIRE RISK: From left, firefighter Andrew Coe, Tamworth Fire and Rescue station commander Phil Cox and firefighter Mark Stewart check over an electric blanket. Photo: Gareth Gardner 050514GGE02

LESSEN FIRE RISK: From left, firefighter Andrew Coe, Tamworth Fire and Rescue station commander Phil Cox and firefighter Mark Stewart check over an electric blanket. Photo: Gareth Gardner 050514GGE02

You should periodically test your smoke alarms “to make sure they’re still beeping”.

“The batteries should already have been changed for the change of season,” Mr Cox said.

It was important to clean your chimney before lighting your first fire for the season, he said.

“Clean your chimney before you light a fire – it gets a build-up of creosote and coke which can cause obstructions,” Mr Cox said.

“Birds can even nest in chimneys during the summer months ... periodically you should put a broomstick up to test.”

An Oxley Local Area Command spokesman also reminded everyone to check their smoke alarms. 

“Winter is just around the corner. Please check your electric blankets and electrical heating for any faulty wiring,” Senior Constable Garry Irvine of Tamworth police said. 

“If you have wood fires, please clean the flue out and use the correct types of wood – do not use treated wood.”


A BASIC electrical safety check on a premises is all it takes to ensure home maintenance doesn’t have shocking consequences.

Essential Energy northern regional manager Ben Williams said there were some simple steps that could be taken to reduce the risk of injury for home handymen or property owners about to embark on work around the house.

Mr Williams said all homes and workshops should be fitted with a safety switch known as a residual current device (RCD) or earth leakage circuit breaker that can help prevent injury from an electric shock. 

“It’s best to get a qualified electrical tradesperson to fit this equipment and complete any safety checks,” he said.

“Also, ensure sufficient power outlets are installed, to keep extension leads to a minimum, and don’t overload power points by using more than one adaptor or power board.”

Essential Energy recommends switching off portable appliances at the power point when not in use and checking appliances for any damage prior to use.

“Never use electrical appliances in wet areas or with wet hands or spray household cleaners on power points or switches,” Mr Williams said.

“If any kind of liquid spills onto an electrical appliance, turn off the power at the power point, unplug it and have it checked by a qualified electrician before using it again.”

Home handymen are advised not to attempt work near electrical fittings or equipment around the house or workshop without consulting a qualified electrical tradesperson first. Never attempt activities such as roofing, guttering, painting or pruning near the service line connecting the power network to the house before consulting Essential Energy on 13 23 91.

“The service line to your house should always be considered live and specific clearances must be maintained from it and the connection to the house,” he said.


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