Simple Steps Towards Fire Safety at Home
The thought of a fire breaking out in your home is terrifying. However, be prepared and you can minimise the chances of a fire in your home.
No one wants to have to contend with a fire in their home. It is one of the worst-case scenarios for every one of us. The sheer destruction that a fire leaves in its wake- and its speed through your home- is horrific. There are precautions and practices you can all put into place in and around your home to minimize the risk of a fire breaking out.
Let’s take a look at the three steps to safeguarding your home, property, belongings and loved ones against fire.
Have a fire plan in place
While no one wants to have to think of a fire breaking out at home, we suggest you have a plan in place for this incident (which we hope never occurs). Panic, disorientation and fear are all expected emotions if you find a fire in your home. Having a plan in place will go some way to mitigating this and help everyone remain safe.
Talk to family members/housemates and put together a plan so that if ever a fire breaks out, everyone is on the same page and there is some protocol in place. First and foremost is to identify which are the best exit points and mark them out – to do this, take a walk around the entire house and know which the primary escape route for each room is, also identify any possible secondary exits.
If your home/apartment is on a higher floor, figure out what the best way to reach ground level is. Discuss and identify a SAFE meeting place – where everyone will gather in the event of the fire, after they have escaped the premises. It is also worth having a practice drill or walk through the plan. Discuss the plan with children and any seniors as well.
Make sure your home is equipped with firefighting gear
Fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems – which of these do you have in place to protect your home in the event of a fire breaking out? As well as having the equipment, you have to check at regular intervals to make sure the batteries and wiring in your smoke detector/alarm are working, the fire extinguisher is not jammed up, and the water connection and pipe to your sprinklers are in order.
An additional piece you could invest in are fire blankets, especially useful in the case of a kitchen or cooking related fire.
As a bare minimum, you must have working smoke alarms in your home. 80% of fire-related deaths in NZ could have been avoided with working smoke alarms. Invest in a ten-year battery so you don’t have to replace the batteries every 12 months. Under NZ law, a landlord must supply fire alarms, so if you are renting and don’t have them, contact your landlord today.
Evaluate and fireproof your home
Never leave ignition sources unattended
First and foremost is, of course, do not leave fires of any sort unattended, be it a cigarette, a winter fire, a candle lit for a pleasant aroma, or even a pot on the stove. Smoking in bed is a strict no-no. So is leaving the kettle on the boil and walking out of the house. New Zealand’s top cause of house fires is when the cooking has been left unattended.
Never mix alcohol consumption and cooking. It is one of the leading causes of kitchen fires.
Instilling these golden rules in each and every member of the household is the first, most important and best way to avoid a fire. Most fires are caused by kitchen accidents and carelessness.
Wiring and electrics
Be vigilant and minimize the chance of a fire breaking out by ensuring that your wiring and electrical equipment are all in good working order, there are no shorts or burnt our wires and plugs and replace rusty or faulty electricals.
Space heaters, heaters, and clothes dryers are electrical equipment that can cause a fire to break out. Make sure to keep fabric away from them, do not have curtains or an upholstered or wooden chair right against the heater, and don’t overload your clothes dryer.
Don’t overload extension cords or multi-plugs.
Fire safety in winter
Take a good look around your fireplace if you have one, and make sure the chimney is clean and not clogged. Always clean out flues and chimneys before you start the first winter fire in your fireplace.
Keep matches, candles, lighters and fire starters far from the hands of the young ones at home.
If your home has a gas heater, then make sure it is serviced regularly, never ever leave it unattended, and ensure there is fresh air coming into the room.
If you want to use an electric blanket, ensure the cords are not tangled or twisted – a twisted cord is one of the top reasons for fires related to electric blankets. Get your blanket tested by electricians to make sure it’s in good working order, and if you store it during summer, roll the blanket rather than fold it.
Small changes can save lives
Be sensible, prepared and vigilant. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for fire. Implementing the tips suggested will ensure you are as safe as possible and have minimized the possibility of a fire breaking out.