TOASTY open fires, electric blankets and heaters may bring joy to the hearts of people during winter, but they represent a worry for firefighters.
Winter is traditionally the busiest time of the year for firefighters and it's also the time of the most severe house fires.
A Fire and Rescue NSW spokeswoman said while crews don't always see an increase in the number of house fires during winter, they do see an increase in fatalities related to house fires.
In the Central West, the season has already got off to a busy start with firefighters receiving call outs to a range of incidents, including house fires.
So far Bathurst crews have attended 54 incidents, while Dubbo is just behind at 46, there have been 21 incidents for Lithgow crews, 17 in Orange and 12 in Mudgee.
By comparison in winter last year Dubbo firefighters attended 193 incidents, Orange had 173, followed by Bathurst (138), Lithgow (47) and Mudgee (46).
Station Officer Chris Sanders said when it comes to close calls one incident springs to mind.
Just a few years ago, when he was stationed in Dubbo, a resident brought in an electric blanket that was just seconds away from catching fire.
The resident and her family were just about to go out and, at the last minute, someone remembered the electric blanket was still turned on.
Parts of the blanket had already singed a dark black/brown colour and it had burnt through a fitted sheet, blanket and mattress cover.
"It could absolutely have started a house fire," Station Officer Sanders said.
Flames or heat sources being left unattended are the most common cause contributing to kitchen fires.Dubbo Station Officer Chris Cusack
Dubbo Station Officer Chris Cusack said leaving cooking unattended was the most common cause of house fire in the Dubbo region.
"Flames or heat sources being left unattended are the most common cause contributing to kitchen fires," he said.
"It can take just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but only seconds to prevent one.
Station Officer Sanders said outdoor heaters should never be brought indoors.
"They emit carbon monoxide and you can't smell it. It dispels the breathable air and it'll put your to sleep. It can be fatal," he said.
The lint filter in a tumble drier should also be cleaned after every use, he warns.
"The heat in the lint can generate a fire," he said.
Home fire safety tips
- Never ever leave cooking unattended
- Only working smoke alarms save lives. Test your smoke alarm today
- Keep everything one metre away from your heater
- Do not overload your power boards with appliances like heaters and electric blankets
- Strong fire screens should be set up in front of open fires
- Turn off your electric blanket at night
- Do not use outdoor heating and cooking equipment inside your home. The use of this type of equipment indoors could lead to the build-up of carbon monoxide which could be fatal