Being bushfire ready is part of Australian life. We make plans, take preventative actions and know the risks. But did you know more Australians die in residential fires on average than by all natural hazards combined – and most of these fires are preventable?
Those over the age of 65 are 50% more likely to suffer injury or death as a result of a housefire, emphasising the importance of recognising risks, taking preventative actions and having a plan. Decreased mobility, cognitive confusion, sight and hearing loss experienced by many older people all impact your ability to respond and take the quick steps necessary in an emergency situation.
Preventative actions that you should be considering in your home include:
• Making sure you have a fire alarm in every room and outside the door to bedrooms. Having a smoke alarm doubles your chance of survival in the event of a house fire.
• Having your smoke alarms tested every month. If hearing the alarm is a problem, you can get a strobe alarm or one that shakes your bed in the event it goes off.
• Create a fire escape plan. Make sure you are able to open the windows and doors if needed and you have quick access to any keys to unlock exits. You should be familiar with the exits of your house or apartment and how to get out of your building.
Recognising potential risks or fire hazards in the home greatly reduces the likelihood of a fire breaking out, be it large or small. Some risks to keep top of mind include:
• Making sure space heaters are kept at least 1.5 metres away from drapes, bedding, sofas or your clothing.
• Being mindful not to overload power boards or leave extension leads where they can be trip hazards.
• If you’re a smoker, be careful to completely extinguish the butt in a heavy, deep ashtray with high sides and only ever smoke outdoors
• When cooking, wear short, rolled up or fitted sleeves to keep them from catching fire accidentally.
• Never leave the room unattended when something is being cooked on the stove.
• Avoid open flames within the home, such as candles or fireplaces.
Making a number of small changes in the home can make a huge difference in the event of a fire. If you are unable to successfully open some doors or windows in your home or do not find that a smoke alarm is effective at catching your attention, looking into solutions now could end up saving your life.
Should you ever find yourself facing a house fire in your home, the first step is always to evacuate the building before calling 000 emergency services for help.
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