RAC issues warning over winter fire statistics

RAC is urging Western Australians to be extra careful with fires in the home this winter, with the group’s Insurance Home Claims Manager Glen Walker reporting an increase in the total number of fire claims lodged through the colder months over the past four years.

“Between 2013 and 2016, the months of July, August and September have consistently had a higher percentage of fires when compared to the other months of the year,” Mr Walker said.

“On average, there is nearly a 20 per cent increase in fire claims over these months.

“Flammable items being left too close to heaters, open fireplaces, candles, electric blankets and overloaded power boards are just some of the ways a house fire can start.

“We typically notice an increase in claims during winter, but people need to be careful all year round.

“Even dust build-up on power boards have sparked house fires here in Western Australia.

“We frequently respond to claims which, with the right preventive action, could have been avoided.

“Recently we responded to a claim where an old electric blanket caught fire.

Thankfully, the occupant was able escape the fire but there was still $130,000 damage caused to the home. The blanket was very old and should have been replaced years ago.

“Given the significant increase in house fire claims we’ve recorded over the past four years, it’s important householders are doing everything they can to protect themselves from such a dangerous and stressful incident.”

The cost of rebuilding an average home after a house fire is close to$350,000, while the approximate cost of replacing contents lost in a house fire is around $120,000.

These amounts can increase significantly depending on the style of your home and the belongings that you have.

Taking a few minutes to check your smoke alarm is still working and unplugging appliances when they’re not being used are two simple ways to better protect yourself from a house fire.

Investing in a fire blanket or extinguisher is also a something that can help make your home safer.

“We would also recommend making sure that you have enough insurance cover, so you aren’t left out of pocket if you need to rebuild,” Mr Walker said.