improving your home

How to avoid a fire in your home

Many house fires are preventable. At GIO more than 260 house fire claims were lodged in the last 13 months (October 2022 – October 2023). We’ve also seen an increase in the damage caused by house fires due to:

  • the use of more flammable building materials
  • an increase in household appliances with lithium batteries, and
  • a rising popularity of open-plan home designs.

So whether you are a landlord, homeowner, or renter, you could prevent a house fire on your property by reviewing some of the most common causes below.

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Common reasons for a house fire

Unsupervised cooking equipment

Avoid leaving pots and pans unattended when being used for cooking as they can quickly overheat and start a fire. Once you’ve finished cooking, remember to check that you’ve turned off the stove or oven.

Keep flammable items such as tea towels, wooden utensils or oven mitts at a safe distance from hot surfaces.

Outdoor barbecues

Check and maintain your barbecue’s fittings and connections often, as incorrectly fitted gas bottles can be a serious fire hazard. When your barbecue is not in use, remember to turn off the gas bottle.

Poor quality phone chargers

Many inexpensive smartphone chargers from non-reputable manufacturers deliver the incorrect voltage and current to your device. This can cause the battery to overheat and become damaged over time, increasing the risk of electrocution or a fire. Consider buying phone chargers from certified stores or choosing brands compatible with your smartphone.

When charging your devices, avoid overloading your power points and power boards by charging too many devices at the same time as this may cause a fire.

Household appliances

House fires are often caused by incorrectly maintained or faulty electrical appliances, so it’s important to regularly service or replace them when necessary. Some appliances which could start a fire are:

  • toasters
  • kettles
  • fridges
  • dishwashers
  • washing machines, and
  • dryers.

Dryers in particular may ignite from lint build up, so refer to the user manual when cleaning out your dryer’s lint trap.

If you’re heading out or going to bed, avoid turning on the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer to avoid the risk of a fire while the appliance is unattended. Check the wires of your household appliances often for damage and unplug any that are not in use.

Storage in garages and sheds

Many homes unfortunately don’t have a smoke or heat alarm in the garage or shed to alert you if a fire breaks out. And yet, it’s common for garages to be cluttered with flammable materials and often used as storage for lithium-battery powered items and flammable liquids. Think about installing a stand-alone smoke or heat alarm in your garage and shed.

Lithium battery powered devices

You can find Lithium-ion batteries in many electronic devices we use today, including:

  • laptops
  • smartphones and tablets
  • e-scooters
  • e-bikes, and
  • power tools.

The batteries in these devices can pose a serious fire risk if they aren’t charged, stored or disposed of correctly. Lithium batteries can also significantly increase the intensity and rapidness of house fires.

Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully when it comes to charging and storing your devices.

Incorrectly stored flammable liquids and chemicals

Flammable liquids, like petrol or methylated spirits can catch fire if kept near a heat source, while some pool chemicals can explode if not stored correctly. Make sure to keep these chemicals in a place not exposed to moisture and heat.

Christmas and fairy lights

Many homeowners and renters keep festive lights on for extended periods during the holiday season, which can unfortunately lead to overheating and potentially a fire. Consider switching off your Christmas lights before heading to bed or leaving your home.

Candles, cigarettes and e-cigarettes

Open flames such as candles present a great risk of starting a fire. Keep candles and lighters away from pets, children, and flammable materials, like curtains or books. Always put out candles before leaving the room.

Be careful with e-cigarettes and vapes as they contain lithium powered batteries which are highly flammable. For traditional cigarettes, use deep ashtrays and avoid smoking in bed. This helps prevent the risk of accidentally falling asleep and setting the bedding on fire.

Leaving gas on when away on holiday

To prevent any potential gas leaks or fires while you’re away for an extended period, consider turning off your gas supply safely before you leave.

Update your home insurance

To ensure your cover remains appropriate for your circumstances, regularly check and update your policy details, including your sum insured. It’s also important to check your insurance policy’s fine print as different policies cover different things.

With GIO, all Home & Contents Insurance and Landlord Insurance policies automatically cover loss or damage caused by fire, including bushfire*, malicious damage and theft. Limits, conditions and exclusions apply, so read the PDS for full details about what is and is not covered.

GIO also offers cover for:

  • temporary accommodation, including utility costs, for you and your pets if your home is damaged and cannot be lived in
  • replacement of your plants, trees and garden beds, and
  • environmental improvements, such as a rainwater tank or solar system, if your home is severely damaged and did not previously have environmental equipment.^

When we repair or rebuild the home, we provide a lifetime guarantee on the quality of workmanship for the repair or rebuild if we authorise, arrange and pay the builder or repairer directly for this work. For the full details including exclusions, please read the PDS.

So review your home insurance cover today. If you have GIO Home Insurance you can update your policy details via online or the GIO Insurance App.

Review and update my policy

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*We do not insure you for 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.

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. Go to for a copy. Target Market Determination is 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.