Purchasing a home is usually the most expensive transaction we will ever carry out in our lives. Owning a home is not just a massive financial investment, but also a large emotional investment when you consider all of the upkeep. Keeping your home safe for children and adults alike also requires an ongoing commitment. Home fire safety starts with you and we have some tips below for preventing residential fires.
Ten Tips for Home Fire Safety
1. Smoke alarms save lives
As of October 2009, mains powered smoke alarms must be fitted in residential buildings prior to sale. Same goes for when new tenancy agreements are signed for rental properties.
Smoke alarms are arguably the single most important purchase you’ll ever make for your home. Functioning smoke alarms are a necessity for home fire safety and can double your chances of survival, especially when you consider that the majority of deaths from house fires are actually caused by smoke. If you’re in a multi-storey home, you’ll need at least one smoke alarm installed on each level. The advanced notice a beeping smoke alarm can provide in the event of an emergency could mean the difference between life and death, so be sure to test your smoke alarms regularly.
2. Plan an escape route
Getting out of your home fast is essential when a fire breaks out and you’ll need to be adequately prepared for an escape. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants after being abruptly woken by a smoke alarm at 2:00AM, plan ahead with your family to memorise and rehearse an escape route. Our key home fire safety tip is to ensure you decide where everyone in your family meets after the evacuation. Outdoors is your best bet, much like a muster point at a commercial property.
3. Quit smoking
Not only is smoking tobacco bad for your health, careless smoking can also cause death in the family home. Never smoke in bed and when you entertain guests, make ashtrays are available for smokers to completely extinguish their cigarettes. Smoldering cigarettes can ignite upholstered furniture, couch throws, cushions and older forms of carpet in a matter of minutes.
4. Take care when cooking
No matter the circumstances, be sure to never leave your cooking unattended. Furthermore, home fire safety should be upheld, and it helps to know how to extinguish the various types of kitchen fires that can occur.
WA Fire highly recommend portable fire equipment, including a fire blanket and Dry Chemical Powder (DCP) fire extinguisher be readily available in all homes.
5. Space heaters, you guessed it, need space!
Be sure to keep space heaters at least 1.5 metres away from anything in your home that can burn. Be sure to turn a space heater off if you leave your home, and always keep pets and children away from heaters.
6. “Ya gotta keep ’em separated” – Matches, lighters and children
Speaking of children, you may find that your young ones are fascinated by fire. Home fire safety starts with you! Educate your children that matches and lighters are not toys and are only ever to be used only by adults. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. If you have suspicions your child has “souvenired” matches or lighters, or they’re missing from their usual place, check under your children’s bed, in closets and the like.
7. Be careful with electricity and appliances
Keep an eye on appliance cords, if they crack or become frayed, enlist the services of an appliance repairer. Furthermore, if an appliance sparks, gives off smoke or emits a smell, be quick to unplug it and call your appliance repairer.
Improper use of extension cords can also cause fire. For the sake of home fire safety, never run extension cords under rugs. The manuals will advise you to not use an extension cord on some appliances and make sure you never use an extension cord incorrectly.
8. Stay low under smoke
Hot air rises and this includes smoke from a house fire. If you ever need to escape a fire, get down low to the floor. Air near the floor is cleaner and contains oxygen that you can breathe when escaping a house fire.
9. Stop, drop and roll
Oxygen feeds the flames of a fire, so if your clothes ever catch fire, make sure you do not run! The faster you move, the more you’ll exacerbate the fire that’s burning your clothes. What you must do instead is stop exactly where you are, drop to the ground, use your hands to cover your face, then roll around until the flames are extinguished. If it’s a family member whose clothes are on fire, cover them with a blanket, rug or coat, then roll them on the ground.
10. Quickly treating a burn
First aid trainers will tell you that the best treatment for minor burns is to run them under cool water for 20 minutes. Never use ice on a burn as it can damage the skin. Also do not ever apply butter or oil to a burn as this will prevent air from reaching the burn. If skin is burned severely enough to cause blisters or charring, call 000 immediately.
Contact WA Fire for more information and advice on home fire safety
Home fire safety and preventing death isn’t a matter of luck. Every household should have a plan that at the bare minimum, adheres the tips above. Make it a priority to protect your family, household and valuables from fire. You never know, your life may depend on it.
Feel free to reach out to us for more information and advice.