Aussie summers are well-known for their heatwave temperatures and long dry periods without rain. It’s therefore no surprise that summertime is often referred to as fire season. However, the potential fire threat to homes isn’t just exclusive to summer, nor does it only apply to your home. Rental properties are also at risk, and as a landlord, you have certain responsibilities to ensure your tenant’s safety. Taking appropriate safety measures could not only save hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, it could also save lives. Here’s a checklist of everything you and your tenant should do to stay safe all year round.
The best type of action is preventative action, so make sure you plan ahead. Making a habit to regularly check these few small things around the property will help reduce the risk of a fire emergency:
- Remove leaves and debris build-up from gutters and other roof fittings, which are highly flammable.
- If you have a woodpile, make sure you store it at a safe distance from the property.
- Remove all dead vegetation from trees and gardens, as overhanging branches will fuel a fire very quickly.
- Maintain the lawn by keeping the grass short and well-hydrated, and rake up any leaves.
- Have a least one garden hose that extends to the perimeter of your property.
- Recycle regularly. Storing piles of cardboard, newspapers or other combustible materials close to the house is a potential fire hazard.
- Store all flammable liquids and paints separately and at a safe distance from the house.
- LPG gas bottles should have the valve facing away from the house.
- Store pool chemicals separately. They can ignite if placed near other flammable liquids.
- Check that you have up-to-date home and contents insurance, and make sure it covers you for fire damage.
- Replace or repair roof tiles to prevent embers penetrating the home.
- Establish an evacuation plan and make sure everyone in the home is familiar with the procedures.
The inside of your home is just as important as the outside when it comes to fire prevention. In fact, nearly half of all house fires start in the kitchen, so here are a few safety measures to consider in this particular area:
- Never leave a hot stove unattended, and double-check you have switched off all cooking appliances after use.
- Keep tea towels, oven mitts, hand towels and other flammable items away from the cooking area.
- Turn pot handles to face inwards when cooking to avoid knocking them over (or small children pulling them onto themselves).
- Remember that water can enhance oil or fat-based fires instead of extinguish them. Keep a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in the kitchen and other high risk areas.
Other safety factors to consider include:
- Windows – for rental properties located in bushfire prone regions, you can install special safety windows to help reduce the risk of property damage.
- Smoke alarms – The law states that every home must have at least one smoke alarm fitted on each level – rental properties included. Using the changeover to daylight savings is a good way to remember to test smoke alarms regularly.
- Deadlocks – There are some tragic tales of homeowners deadlocking themselves inside the house and then being unable to escape from a fire. Any keys to locked doors should be easily accessible, perhaps even remaining in the lock, on the inside.
- Appliances – Overloading power points can cause electrical fires. Be sensible with power cords and only plug in what you need at the time. Also switch off any appliances not in use – not only will it save on energy costs, it can help stop a fire spreading and prevent related outbursts.
Contact your state or region’s fire protection services for further information on fire safety and prevention.
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