Be alarmed, alert & active in winter months Be alarmed, alert & active in winter

With a staggering 10,000 residential fires annually[1], insurance veteran, John Saunders CEO of Insure Simply and Horsell International today encouraged all Australians to be prepared this winter by purchasing home safety equipment such as smoke alarms and to have an emergency evacuation plan on hand to protect the lives of loved ones & homes.

"Smoke alarms are necessary lifesaving devices that are now mandatory in all existing homes in NSW, South Australia and Victoria," said Saunders. "Tragically, we lose the lives of 20 to 25 children a year in house fires and two out of three of those children are under five years of age[2]. A smoke alarm costs around $20. To overlook them and other fire safety equipment is negligence of the worst kind."

Despite the statistics, more than 670,000 dwellings in NSW yet to install a smoke alarm in their household[3], only 17% of owned homes having fire blankets and only 14% of households having an emergency action plan[4].

Insure Simply recommend the following essential fire safety tips to ensure the protection of their homes and lives:

  • Check the quality of your heating equipment to ensure there are no frayed cords or other issues.

  • Consider purchasing fire-proof blankets & a fire extinguisher for use in an emergency.

  • Make sure your smoke alarm is installed on a flat ceiling away from any corners, for effective protection.

  • Where possible, purchase timed heating devices - or switch heaters off before you go to sleep.

  • Install a smoke alarm in each bedroom of the house, particularly where occupants sleep with their doors closed and if heaters or electrical appliances are used in those rooms.

  • Test your smoke alarm at least once every month, or as per the manufacturers instructions.

  • To clean a smoke alarm (should be cleaned once a year), run the hose end/the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner over the grill area of each smoke alarm to remove any dust build up that may interfere with its effectiveness.

  • Dont leave electric blankets on in an unoccupied house, and try to avoid leaving them on for more than a few hours at a time.

  • Never pour water on electricity or oil fire (use a fire blanket or extinguisher).

  • If you are an occupant of an apartment building, take note of fire exists & routes - never use a lift.

  • If you are an occupant of a house, be aware of how to evacuate others.

  • Have a reasonably detailed inventory of house contents - helps with a claim (but keep a copy away from the house)

  • Make sure insurance sums are adequate to rebuild, replace content and pay for temp accommodation

  • Keep photographs of expensive / rare items to help with insurance claims.

  • Check whether your policy pays new for old for clothes, linen, crockery, manchester etc

  • Make sure you extinguish cigarettes fully before leaving the home.

    Saunders said: "In winter many Australians use their fire places or pull out the electric heaters and other electrical equipment to escape the cold. This is the time when most fires occur. We encourage all Australians to check the quality of their heating equipment, fire extinguishers & smoke alarms the simplest things are often the most important".

    "Following the lead of South Australia & Victoria, NSW on May 1st introduced laws to make smoke alarms mandatory in all existing homes to protect the lives and decrease the number of house fires in the state, which amounted to 4425[5] in 2004. As Insure Simplys prides itself on providing consumers with the correct protection and up-to-date information, we urge all Australians to act this winter whether thats installing a smoke alarm, buying a fire extinguisher or making an evacuation plan with your family," explains Saunders.

    Smoke alarms provide benefits for occupants, by detecting smoke before any sleeping occupant would and emitting a loud sound to alert occupants of potential danger. Critically, smoke alarms provide seconds to allow people to implement actions to save the lives of family members, their possessions and property.

    There are two types of smoke alarms that offer effective protection for occupants; ionisation smoke alarms and photoelectric smoke alarms. The installation of smoke alarms involves the devices either being wired into the household electricity mains (with battery backup), or being operated by battery only.

    John Saunders 30 year insurance career includes working with countless people who have lost their homes and belongings to fire. Johns desire to empower Australians with the knowledge and insurance cover to adequately protect themselves has led to the recent launch of a new consumer initiative, Insure Simply.

    About Insure Simply:

    Insure Simply is Australias first online service to compare competitive insurance policies point-by-point in an objective, and easy-to-understand way. Insure Simply sells Home & Contents and Motor Vehicle insurance policies from trusted insurers such as QBE, Allianz, & Calliden. The founding team behind Insure Simply includes John Horsell, founder and co-owner of one of Australias largest business insurance brokers, Horsell International and John Saunders, CEO and partner in Horsell International. For further information, please visit

    [1] Burn Foundation Australia -

    [2] Burn Foundation Australia -

    [3] Waverley Council -

    [4] ABS 4818.1 - Community Preparedness for Emergencies, NSW, 02/04/2004

    [5] Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Bill -The Hon. TONY KELLY (Minister for Rural Affairs, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Lands, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Natural Resources)

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