“More Australians are killed in residential fires each year than through other natural hazards – floods, storms and bushfires – combined.” Macquarie University and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre
Research indicates that fire has resulted in 900 preventable deaths in Australia between 2003 and 2017, which should make fire safety in the home a priority. If you don’t already know what to do in the case of a fire emergency, read on to find out what the dangers of a fire in the home are, and what you can do to avoid them.
1. What are the fire dangers in the home?
Firstly, you need to be aware of the high-risk fire areas in the home in an effort to avoid these becoming a threat later on. Here are some of the main areas of fire risk in the home. These include:
- Worn-out household wiring – get a registered electrician to check your house’s wiring.
- Adaptor plugs and other electrical products not bought from a reputable source.
- Overloaded electrical sockets exceeding the total amp limit.
- Dust build-up around electrical sockets and heaters.
- Glassware on a windowsill which could be a sun trap.
- Open flames such as candles now kept on fireproof surfaces or even fireplaces in unventilated rooms.
- Toaster crumbs left in a toaster can spark and cause a fire.
- Grease build-up around cookers or extractor filters.
- Electric blankets left unattended or folded.
- Cellphones and other devices left charging throughout the night.
2. How to create an escape plan for your family
Your best course of action, once you’ve checked all the above-mentioned fire hazards, is to implement a fire escape plan, outlining the safest route in the case of a home fire. The first step is to check the smoke alarms are all fully functional, and batteries have been replaced. Test the alarm, so the family knows what the smoke alarm sounds like, before getting to your escape plan. You should also have working fire extinguishers, blankets and torches which are easily accessible, as well as collapsible escape ladders if you’re higher up. Then start your escape plan.
- Map out your house, finding all the entry and exit routes of the home including doors and windows. Check that all doors and windows open easily.
- If your windows or doors have security bars, ensure that they have emergency release devices in case of an emergency.
- Decide on a designated meeting spot outside of the home at a safe distance. Remind everyone that once they are out, they do not go back into the building.
- Teach your children how to escape from the home unaided using the fastest available route, in case you’re unable to assist them.
- Keep your keys and phone in a specific place for easy access at night.
- Practice your fire escape plan during the day, and at night, so that everyone is fully prepared.
- Ensure that everyone memorises the fire department or emergency phone numbers to call when safely outside.
3. What to do if a fire breaks out in your home
If a fire starts, you need to enact your fire escape plan immediately. Here are some more tips for staying safe during a fire emergency:
- Remember to get out and stay out before calling for help.
- Yell ‘fire’ to alert your family members and any neighbours.
- If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, go another way. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
- If you need to escape through smoke, get low and under the smoke to your exit and close doors if you can.
- If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed and place a wet towel under the door before calling for help.
- If you can, get to your meeting place and call the toll-free number 000 on any phone. Say the word ‘fire’ to the operator and answer any questions.
Make sure you and your family are kept safe in the event of a fire by installing the right safety devices from Smoke Alarms Photoelectric.