On average, 18 people lose their lives in house fires in Victoria every year. 

According to Fire Rescue Victoria:

  • More than 70% of fatal fires start in bedrooms and living areas. 
  • Once a fire starts, it can easily grow to involve an entire room in just two to three minutes.

With house fires more common in the winter due to heaters and electrical appliances, there is a lot you can do to prevent a fire and to protect yourself, your family and your home.

Smoke alarms

Did you know that you lose your sense of smell when you sleep?

As most fatal fires happen in the sleeping hours between 8 pm and 8 am, smoke alarms act as our electrical nose by beeping loudly and waking us if there is smoke.

Make sure you have a working smoke alarm by:

  • testing your smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. If you don’t hear 3 beeps, it’s time to:
    • replace the battery of any 9-volt operated smoke alarms
    • replace any smoke alarms past the use-by date on the side of the alarm.
  • Dusting or vacuuming your smoke alarms at least once a year.
  • Installing a smoke alarm powered by a 10-year lithium battery. 

Electric blankets

  • Check that your electric blanket’s cords and wires aren’t worn or frayed.
  • Always turn your blanket off before you fall asleep.
  • Don't overload power boards with multiple electric blankets.
  • Never place heavy items on your bed when your electric blanket is turned on.

Fireplace

  • Always use a fire screen in front of an open fire.
  • Check that embers (a glowing piece of coal or wood from a fire) are cold before disposing of them.
  • Extinguish open fires before leaving home or going to sleep.

In the kitchen

Approximately 40% of house fires start in the kitchen. Make sure you:

  • Never use water to extinguish an oil or grease fire. 
    • Turn off the stove (if it is safe to do so) and use a pan lid to cover the flame. 
    • Use a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in the first few seconds of ignition if you are confident.
  • Keep pot handles turned in to avoid spillage or knocks.
  • Keep items that could burn – such as paper, oils or overcooked food - at least one metre away from cooking and heat sources.
  • Keep the stove top, griller, oven, rangehood and cooking area free from built up grease, dust and oil.

Heaters

  • Keep drying clothes and other items that can burn at least one metre away from all heating.
  • Clean filters in ducted and reverse-cycle heating systems regularly.
  • Keep heaters and heating vents clear of clothes or blankets.
  • Turn off all heaters when you leave home
  • Don't overload power boards with multiple heaters.
  • Energy Safe Victoria recommends getting gas heaters (including outdoor LPG units) checked by qualified personnel every 2 years.

Other items around the home

  • Keep curtains and other items that could catch fire at least one metre from open flames, including candles. 
  • Choose low fire-risk children's nightwear styled to be close fitting and made of less flammable material – look for the fire risk label.
  • Clean the lint filter in your dryer. 

More information

For more tips on home fire safety, visit Fire Rescue Victoria’s website.