Recent research examining 14 years of coronial records across Australia showed that residential fires kill more Australians each year than other natural disasters such as floods, storms and bushfires combined. Most of the victims were the elderly, disabled, children and those living alone. With house fires being one of the top hazards in the country, it’s crucial to know what to do in the event of a fire in your home. Taking action immediately can save lives.
The key to fire safety is prevention. In addition, a high-tech photoelectric smoke alarm may be a lifesaver by efficiently detecting smoke and smouldering fires. If your house catches fire, make sure you know these six crucial things to do.
1. Try to Extinguish the Fire
When a fire starts, there is still a small window of time to put it out. So act quickly and ensure you know where your fire extinguisher is. If your cooking utensils such as pots and pans overheat and catch fire, remember to grab your fire extinguisher and use the acronym PASS to extinguish the flame:
- PULL the pin
- AIM towards the base of the flames
- SQUEEZE the extinguisher handle
- SWEEP the extinguisher from side to side.
Remember to double-check that the fire is no longer smouldering and has been completely extinguished.
Keeping a fire blanket in the kitchen will help smoulder flames by cutting off the oxygen supply to the contents of a pot or a person’s clothing. So, if you don’t already have one, it would be a good investment and fire protection strategy to buy a fire blanket in Australia.
2. Keep to a Safe Distance
A house fire can emit hazardous smoke and harmful chemicals, causing dizziness and loss of consciousness if inhaled. This, in turn, can make escaping a domestic fire even more difficult. Stay low to the ground to avoid inhaling the smoke and harmful fumes, and remember to crawl to the nearest escape.
Even after you’ve made it outside, you are not completely safe. The roof or sides could still catch fire and fall to the ground. Keep a safe distance away from the fire, such as across the street or down the block.
3. Get Help Immediately
Call emergency services as soon as you are safely away from the fire. Tell the operator there is a fire at your location and provide them with additional information. If you don’t have your mobile phone with you, ask to borrow your neighbour’s phone or request passers-by to help you make the call.
4. Check Doors and Door Knobs for Heat
Before entering a room in the event of a fire, check if the door or doorknob is hot. This can help you tell whether there is a raging fire on the other side of the door. If you see smoke coming from under the door or fire upon opening a door, close it immediately and evacuate through another route.
5. Cover Cracks and Call for Help
If you are trapped inside a burning house, use anything you can find around you, such as towels, blankets, and jackets, to cover any cracks surrounding the entrance. Wet the cloth and cover vents to prevent smoke from seeping into the room. Call emergency services at once.
If you are trapped on an upper floor of a building, do not try to escape the flames. In this situation, you should hang huge sheets outside your window or anything else that will attract the attention of passers-by and alert emergency authorities to your location.
6. Stop, Drop and Roll
If your clothes catch fire, here’s a rule of thumb: stop whatever you are doing, drop to the ground, then roll from side to side to put out the flames. Running around will only exacerbate the fire and make it burn even quicker.
In addition to rolling, you can also cover the fire with heavy clothing like a coat, blanket or fire blanket to restrict the fire’s source of oxygen. When you roll, make sure to shield your face with your hands to protect yourself from the flames.
Home Fire Prevention
1. Ensure Your Smoke Alarms are Working
A functioning smoke detector alarm has the potential to save lives. Choose a high-quality smoke alarm for each floor of your home, as well as for each bedroom (depending on which state you are in). Test your smoke alarms on a regular basis, and replace the battery in your smoke alarm once a year. It is also advisable to replace your alarms after ten years. To know how old your device is, check the production date on the back of the alarm
2. Be Equipped
Don’t let a small fire spread throughout your house if you can put it out at the source. Learning how to use a proper fire extinguisher can put your mind at ease. Additionally, it is a good idea to keep a fire blanket near the kitchen and a fire extinguisher in your car as well.
3. Have a Fire Safety Plan
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so make a plan on what to do if your smoke alarm goes off, how to safely escape the house and where to meet. Then put it into practice by having a fire drill at home. While this might seem a strange thing to do at home (fire drills are usually conducted in schools or workplaces), they can help ensure everyone knows exactly what to do if there is a house fire.
Prioritising Fire Prevention
Preventing fires is the first and most important step to ensure fire safety at home. Small precautionary measures go a long way to making your house a safer place for you and your family. Switching to LED candles, avoiding smoking indoors, keeping an eye out for frayed wires, and teaching your children about fire safety are all good ways to reduce the risk of fire in the house. Everyone in your household should make an effort to understand the risks of matches and lighters, as well as how to prevent a house fire.
Bear in mind that a domestic fire can become life-threatening in just two minutes. In about five minutes, fire can completely engulf your home. Protect yourself with fire prevention measures and equip your home with a quality and reliable smoke detector alarm. With a myriad of choices out there, there is bound to be a smoke alarm that can help you effectively keep fire hazards at bay.
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