Many never think they will be in such a position and will never prepare themselves against nature’s most destructive force, but knowing what to do in the event of a fire can and will save lives, preparation is key:
• Keep gutters clean and free from dry leaves and branches
• Use pebbles and rocks in the garden, not flammable mulch
• Keep grass short as fire can spread quickly through long grass
• Do not have large shrubs next to the house
• Cut large, overhanging branches
• Get rid of dry leaves, bark, grass and twigs
• Have a working hose close to the house
• Store flammables such as gas bottles away from the house
• Keep wood piles away from the house.
If it comes to the point where a bush fire threatens your house the best thing to do to ensure the chance of survival is leave early. For more information on what to do if threatened by a bushfire, call your local fire service or visit your rural fire service website in accordance with the state you live in.
Although bushfires are devastating, more people die and are injured in house fires. Last year alone there were 3800 house fires in Australia, resulting in the loss of 12 lives.
Out of these thousands of house fires, 42 per cent started in the kitchen, 8.5 per cent in the bedroom and 8 per cent in the lounge room. Something as simple as burning food in the oven can cause a house fire in minutes.
With most house fires being completely preventable, there are certain precautions you can take to minimalise the chances of a house fire:
• Make sure smoke alarms are working
• Install a fire extinguisher and fire blanket and know how to use them
• Remove lint from the dryer
• Avoid clutter like piles of paper and boxes
• Don’t overload power boards
• Make sure cigarette butts are fully out and never smoke in bed
• Never leave cooking, heaters, open fires or candles unattended
• Store lighters and matches away from children
• Keep all emergency numbers near the phone
• Familiarise everyone with your fire escape plan.
If the unthinkable does happen and a house fire has erupted your main priority is to get out – alert the rest of the family and escape through the nearest exit with great caution. Keep down low to avoid smoke inhalation and don’t worry about trying to save any material objects as this will waste precious time.
Once outside, do a headcount to ensure everyone is out followed by an injury assessment. Call the fire brigade on Triple 0 from a neighbour’s phone or mobile phone and keep a safe distance from the house, not returning inside for any reason.
For more information on home fire safety visit www.homefiresafety.com.au