Burns awareness month a warning to all householders

Potential fires: Residents have been warned of the devastating consequences that can occur if people don’t take precautions with electrical equipment. Photo by Ray Sizer

Last year alone, the Country Fire Authority and Fire Rescue Victoria attended more than 1500 electrical fires involving household equipment and appliances and Alfred Health’s Burns Service says each winter there’s a spike in fire-related injuries.

So those organisations with an intimate knowledge of the impacts of household fires are uniting to raise awareness during Burns Awareness Month.

Alfred Health burns surgeon Dane Holden said each winter brought about an increase in presentations to the Victorian Adult Burns Service at The Alfred, many with harrowing injuries.

"Each year we see a spate of preventable burns injuries caused by faulty products or because people let their guard down," he said.

"Unfortunately, when products such as electric heaters malfunction, it can quickly lead to a house fire and catastrophic burns injuries.

“These types of fires result in burns all over the body, which requires significant surgical intervention and long, painful rehabilitation periods.”

CFA chief officer Jason Heffernan said Burns Awareness Month was a timely reminder to take extra precautions to prevent serious burns or devastating house fires.

“Electrical appliances, including double adaptors, power boards and extension cords are a major cause of residential fires,” Mr Heffernan said.

“Check you’re not overloading power boards. Don’t leave electrical appliances like hair straighteners and laptops on soft surfaces. And never leave electrical devices like your phone charging overnight.

“Also, ensure monitors, laptops, televisions and other equipment have good air flow around them and are not covered or in confined spaces, while outdoor electrical items like eBikes, eScooters or hoverboards should be properly maintained.”

Fire Rescue commissioner Ken Block said more than 70 per cent of fatal house fires started in bedrooms and living areas.

“These can be caused by a range of factors, including electrical appliances, and we are calling on all Victorian households to install smoke alarms in every bedroom, living area, and hallway,” Mr Block said.

“The school holidays are also an ideal time to test smoke alarms, and it only takes a few minutes to check if your smoke alarm is in working order.

“We encourage you to do so — only working smoke alarms save lives.”