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Essential fire safety checks to prepare your home and garage for a safe and comfortable winter

Losing a home to a house fire is a fear most New Zealanders are familiar with and something we all want to avoid. According to Fire and Emergency NZ, in the year ending 30 June 2017 there were over 5,200 structural fires. Some of the main causes of winter house fires include heaters, cooking and dryers.

Prepare your home and garage for a safe and comfortable winter by undertaking just a few simple checks.

Check your smoke alarms

One of the most important things to check is that your smoke alarms are working. According to Fire and Emergency NZ you should check the expiry date of your smoke alarm every year; however, each month you should test the smoke alarm to ensure they Press and hold the test button for at least five seconds or until you hear the beeps. Every six months you should remove excess dust to reduce false alarms and make sure smoke can reach the sensors. Fire and Emergency NZ states that smoke alarms won’t work through a closed door, so it’s important to have smoke alarms in all bedrooms, living spaces and the garage.
Laundry safety
Putting on a fluffy dressing gown straight out of the dryer can feel like a big hug, especially when it’s been raining. To avoid setting the house alight in a bid to dry your clothes, Housing New Zealand suggests always cleaning the lint filter before and after each use. Keep the area directly surrounding the dryer free from anything flammable such as cleaning supplies or boxes.
Heater safety
Regardless of what kind of heater you have (including electric blankets), you should check that they are still safe to use before you switch them on each yearFire and Emergency NZ suggests having a professional service any appliances such as electric blankets and heaters if you are concerned about the condition of the appliance.
You should never sleep with a heater or electric blanket on, and remember to clear two meters around the heater, keeping damp clothing or towels well away.
Kitchen safety
According to Fire and Emergency NZ, cooking is one of the leading causes of house fire. Don’t rest utensils or tea towels close to the cooktop where they could easily catch on fire, and never leave the kitchen unattended when using an open flame. It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket between the oven and the nearest exit, but at least one metre away from the stove.  If you keep your BBQ closer to the garage than the house, it’s a good idea to also keep a fire extinguisher and fire blanket there too.
Escape plan
In an emergency, every second counts. It’s important to have an escape plan to increase your chances of getting out safely. Fire and Emergency NZ recommends creating an escape plan with primary and secondary routes out of every room, they have an escape planning tool you can use here.
Your escape strategy should extend to the garage too. If you need to leave your home in a hurry, it’s important to know how to operate the manual release on your garage door to ensure everyone can leave through the garage quickly and safely if the power is out.
In an emergency, all Chamberlain garage door openers can be opened using the red manual release cord. For a roller door, this is usually found on the side where the motor is. On sectional and tilt garage doors the manual release cord should be found in the middle of the garage ceiling.
How to operate a manual release cord:
  1. Pull the red cord down firmly once to manually release the door’s locking mechanism, the opener will make a clicking noise.
  2. Walk over to the door to push it up manually. Do not try to pull the door using the manual release cord; it will snap under the load.
  3. Take care when operating the manual release when the door is open, as it may fall rapidly due to weak or broken springs.
  4. When power returns, or it is safe to do so, re-engage the opener by pulling the red release cord down firmly.

It’s important that everyone who lives in your home understands the escape plan. In the event of an emergency, call 111 from your mobile or a neighbour’s phone.

If you have any other questions or need support with your manual release, contact Chamberlain Customer Service on 0800 653 667.

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