Take steps to reduce risk

November 30, 2016

We all live with uncertainty, but we can take steps to reduce the chances of disaster and so gain some control over our lives.

Five house fires in eight days is disturbing news to report and as we head into the summer and Christmas seasons it is worth taking time, once again, to reflect on the circumstances which lead to these disastrous events.

Country Fire Authority figures show that on average there are 3000 preventable house fires in Victoria every year.

Most could be prevented by taking simple precautions. Check or replace old and faulty electrical appliances, turn everything off before leaving home or going to bed, be vigilant of burning candles and cooktops left on, clothes left too close to heaters or fireplaces and burning cigarettes.

The CFA also advises using a licensed gas-fitter and electrician to check gas heaters and air-conditioners; check chimneys, flues and fire boxes for cracks, rust and debris; check electric blankets for kinks in the wiring; clean the lint filter in your clothes dryer (and continue to do this after every use); and check appliances for visibly frayed or damaged wiring.

This advice is endlessly repeated and it seems nothing can be done but repeat it again.

CFA information also provides an insight into the type of people who die in house fires. It advises that of those people who died in a house fire during the past 10 years:

●more than half did not have a working smoke alarm;

●two-thirds were over 65 years old or had a disability; and

●nearly two-thirds lived alone.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade statistics are even more revealing. MFB figures show that each year more people die and are injured in house fires than in bushfires.

In 2015 there were 1565 preventable house fires in Melbourne resulting in the loss of five lives and causing almost $30million property damage. Figures show:

●45 per cent of those fires started in the kitchen;

●nine per cent of fires began in the bedroom;

●five per cent of fires began in the lounge room; and

●four per cent started in the laundry.

Behind each of these bare facts and figures lie human tragedies.

All we can do is report them and give them a public platform in the hope that someone, somewhere, will take notice and adjust their behaviour and lifestyle.

More information is available at


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