As the weather cools down, we try our best to warm up. That means electric blankets, heaters, fires and more. For that reason it's probably no surprise that the winter months are more likely to result in a house fire situation.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in NSW approximately one third of house fires in NSW occur between June and August of each year, which means house fire season is upon us now.
Knowing that, would you know what to do if a fire sparked up at your home? The Australian Red Cross says that less than five percent of Australians are educated enough to handle an emergency and 200,000 people are hospitalised with serious burns each year.
You can read a full list of measures to take to prevent a fire in your home on the Australian Governments Ready website. However despite the best laid plans, accidental fires can still happen in your home and there are some steps you should have in place should the worst case scenario occur.
Fire is fast. It can take less than 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames, and for that reason families should create and practise a fire escape plan at least twice a year.
Working smoke alarms also significantly increase your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. Install them on every level of your home and check the batteries monthly. It could save your family's life.
Having everything you need close at hand can also help. Melbourne-based company, dFENCE, has developed a home emergency kit with the aim of saving lives. Housed in a compact unit, the dFENCE ePOD contains an Australian made fire extinguisher, fire blanket, torch, first aid kit and a mesh bag for EpiPens, and other personal emergency equipment, so that key response items are on hand when time is critical.
Created by two Melbourne mates after a neighbour's house caught fire during a family barbecue, the ePOD empowers Australians to become first responders in their own home.
Safety tips for keeping your family safe during a house fire
The recommendations from the government's Ready.gov site are:
- Crawl low under any smoke to your exit – heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
- Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
- If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
- If you can't get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
- If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
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- If you can't get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-coloured cloth or a flashlight.
- If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.