29% of home fires start in the kitchen, said RACV Insurance

29% of house fire claims over 2013 were a result of home fires that started in the kitchen, revealed RACV Insurance.

While the data showed the overall claims lodged over 2013 dropped 11.8%, kitchen fires were higher compared to any other location in the home, followed by fires in garages and sheds due to household appliances.

RACV general manager Paul Northey said that although kitchens were a primary fire danger zone, fires can start in any part of a home. “Everyday electrical appliances can start a fire if not properly maintained and used. The most common cause of appliance fires during the past five years was the dishwasher followed by microwaves.”

The report highlighted over the past 5 years that the number of household fire claims were similar in both summer and winter, however the claim types differed during each season. As expected, claims for fires caused by heaters and electric blankets increased in winter and barbecues and mower fires were at its height in summer.

“We encourage householders to take additional care using heaters and fireplaces in winter,” said Northey.

“Most house fires can be prevented through vigilance. For example, take care not to dry clothes too close to the heater and have heating appliances installed, tested and maintained by an accredited professional.”

Mozo advises Australians to check that their home insurance provides cover in the case of a fire and search the home insurance market on a regular basis.

Here are RACV Insurance’s 10 top tips to minimise house fire risk:

1. Ensure appliances are in good working order and that electrical cords are not worn

2. Don't leave food cooking unattended or allow yourself to be distracted while cooking

3. Ensure appliances are switched off when not in use

4. Do not overload electric power boards

5. Never leave open fires and candles unattended

6. Do not dry clothing less than one metre from heaters

7. Clean and test smoke alarms and replace batteries regularly

8. Never deadlock yourself inside your house - keep keys in the lock when you are at home

9. Clean lint filters in clothes dryers after every use

10. Do not smoke in bed

Also read Mozo’s advice for preparing yourself before a fire strikes here.