How to prevent fires in your home
Did you know most house fires are preventable? Our AAMI Home Insurance claims data tells us that there were almost 900 house fire claims across Australia in the last 13 months (October 2022 – October 2023). We’ve also seen an increase in the damage caused by house fires linked to factors like:
- the proximity of neighbouring homes
- more flammable building materials being used in homes, and
- the rising popularity of open-plan home designs.
We’ve listed the most common causes of house fires below to help you avoid them, whether you’re a homeowner, renter, or landlord.
Common causes for house fires
Unattended cooking equipment
Left alone, pots and pans on your stovetop can quickly overheat and cause a fire, so make sure to keep an eye on your cooking. Once you’re done, remember to double check that the stove or oven is turned off.
Also, move flammable items like wooden utensils, tea towels, and oven mitts away from hot surfaces.
Summer is a great time to put on a backyard BBQ. But before you start cooking, check that your gas bottle is correctly connected to your BBQ and the fitting is in good condition. An incorrectly connected gas bottle can pose a serious fire risk.
When your BBQ is not in use, remember to turn off the gas bottle.
Faulty electrical appliances can easily start a house fire, so it’s important to properly maintain or replace them when necessary. Common appliances which may start a fire include:
- washing machines, and
Dryers especially may ignite from lint build up, so refer to the user manual when cleaning out your dryer’s lint trap.
If you’re leaving your home or heading to bed, avoid turning on the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer, to reduce the risk of a fire while the appliance is unattended. Unplug other household devices when not in use and regularly check wires for damage.
Low quality phone chargers
While it may seem like a good idea to buy cheaper, non-branded chargers for your smartphone, these chargers are often lower in quality and don’t deliver the correct voltage and current. This can ultimately overheat and damage your phone’s battery, significantly increasing the risk of electrocution and a fire. Think about going with branded or officially certified phone chargers instead.
Try also to avoid charging too many devices at the same time as this can overload your power point or power board and cause an electrical fire.
Storage in garages and sheds
Garages and sheds are often used as storage space for all the items we don’t want in our homes, like lithium battery-powered devices and flammable liquids. However, most garages don’t have a smoke or heat alarm, so you may want to consider installing one to alert you in case a fire breaks out.
Lithium battery powered items
Lithium-ion batteries are common in many electronic devices we use today, such as:
- power tools
- laptops, and
- smartphones and tablets.
The batteries in these items can pose a fire risk if they’re not charged, stored, or disposed of correctly. Lithium batteries can also increase the intensity of fires and quicken their spread around your home.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for storing and charging your devices to avoid any potential fires.
Flammable liquids and chemicals stored incorrectly
Avoid exposing chemicals to heat or moisture by storing them in a cool, dry place. Some pool chemicals may explode when stored incorrectly, while flammable liquids like methylated spirits or petrol can catch fire if stored near a heat source.
Festive lights may be one of the best parts of holiday season, but lights left on for extended periods can quickly overheat and become a fire hazard. Remember to switch off your Christmas lights before heading to bed or if you’re going out.
Candles, cigarettes and e-cigarettes
While comforting, candles in homes also increase the risk of fires. Put candles and lighters out of reach from pets and children, and at a safe distance from flammable materials, like books or curtains. Make sure to blow out the candles when you exit the room.
If using e-cigarettes or vapes, charge them safely as they contain lithium powered batteries which are highly flammable. For traditional cigarettes, use deep ashtrays and avoid smoking in bed to reduce the risk of falling asleep and setting fire to the bedding.
Keeping on the gas when going on a holiday
If you're heading on your next vacation, consider switching off your gas supply safely to reduce the risk of any potential gas leaks or fires while you're gone.
Check your home insurance covers fire damage
With AAMI Home Insurance policies you’re covered for loss or damage caused by fires and bushfires*. Limits, conditions and exclusions apply, so read the PDS for full details about what is and is not covered.
- temporary accommodation, including utility costs, if your home is damaged and cannot be lived in,
- accidental breakage of glass, and
- motor burnout, such as in a fridge or pool water pump, for motors that are less than seven years old.^
And if you’re worried about whether the sum insured on your policy may leave your home underinsured, for an additional cost, we offer an optional Complete Replacement Cover on AAMI Home & Contents, Building Only and Landlord Insurance policies. It’s our best protection against underinsurance as:
- you don’t need to set a sum insured, and
- it provides peace of mind if you’re uncertain how much it will cost to rebuild your home.
The most we will pay for any one incident is the assessed quote to repair or rebuild the building on a ‘new for old’ basis, unless we say otherwise in your policy. You can upgrade to Complete Replacement Cover when getting a quote online or by calling us on 13 22 44 for existing policies at renewal. For the full details including conditions and exclusions, read the PDS.
- How to prepare your home for bushfires
- How home maintenance can help with insurance claims
- How much insurance do I need for bushfire protection?
* We do not insure bushfire, storm, storm surge, flood or tsunami in the first 72 hours of your policy. Very limited exceptions apply.
^ Limits, conditions and exclusions apply, read the PDS for full details about what is and is not covered.
AAMI Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Go to aami.com.au for a copy. Target Market Determination also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.