With the first day of winter comes a heightened risk of house fires. We look at a kitchen fire in action, plus we share our top tips to prevent house fires.

You need to keep an eye on the heat if you don’t want to burn down the kitchen. Image: State Farm via Flickr

Have you ever watched a fire take hold? We’re not talking about small camp fires. We’re talking serious infernos, the kind that reach 900 degrees Celsius and melt your kitchen table into a puddle in just a few minutes. It’s confronting stuff and it makes you realise just how quickly a frying pan can become a catastrophe.

Today is the first day of winter, the season when the risk of house fires peak. In New South Wales alone, between the months of June and September, firefighters respond to about 1,230 house fires, leaving 576 people injured. Almost half of these fires start in the kitchen and it can take just three minutes for the fire to take hold.

Last week, Fire & Rescue NSW firefighters set ablaze a makeshift kitchen at our fire science labs in Sydney. You can see the scenario play out – someone cooking a meal answers the phone. In just a few minutes the pot on the stove bursts into flames, which quickly engulfs the whole kitchen.

Note: you may find this video confronting.

While we blast the heaters, fire-up the electric blankets and just generally try to stay warm and snuggly this winter, here are 7 simple things you should be doing to prevent a fire at home:

  • Remember Fire & Rescue NSW’s key message this winter – keep looking when cooking.
  • Turn off heaters and electric blankets before leaving home or getting into bed
  • Keep everything one metre from your heater
  • Clean lint filters in the clothes dryer before or after each use
  • Don’t overload power points and power boards
  • Keep candles well away from curtains and put them out before leaving the room
  • Never smoke in bed

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10 comments

  1. hi adam, why is the kitchen burning in just 3 minutes? what can those who experience a house fire do to prevent it before the fire department arrives? (03/02)

  2. 3/27
    Hi Adam,
    How do we strive to prevent fire during the winter? Why do fires at home, especially in the kitchen, reoccur during the winter months? Does the government not broadcast news of fires in the media so that others can avoid that?
    I am an Indonesian, there is no winter here, so we never feel that, I want to know how winter activities are there and how to warm the body without having to use fire.
    Thank you for the information you have written. Stay safe.

  3. 3/18
    hi adam, how do firefighters operate officers to respond to about 1,230 house fires during the winter are all responded well ?, what is the first thing to do to save those who have caught fire?

  4. why do fires occur in winter instead of cold temperatures can put out the fire? What is the first way to put out the fire if the fire department is busy extinguishing another house? any material that is not easy to fire? (3/17)

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