- It is important that in the event of a fire (or emergency) you have a safety checklist and escape plan. Take the time to put both in place with your family, friends or boarders – it could potentially save a life.
A home fire safety checklist consists of a to-do list to prevent your home from catching on fire. These measures should be applied on a daily basis to help reduce the risk overall. The to-do list may include items such as times to regularly clean, dust, check and maintain smoke alarms throughout the home. It may also note general safety actions such as keeping flammable items away from heat sources, being present when there are lit flames (candles, fires, BBQs etc.), safe storage of combustible goods and good practices in the kitchen when cooking and cleaning.
Read our blog to see tips on creating an Escape plan for your home.
A kind postie comforted a young mother and her children while firefighters put out a kitchen fire in their Hāwera home on Wednesday.
Ellen Te Waaka said she was attending to her three-month-old baby when the smoke alarm in her lounge went off just after midday.
A pot of oil on the stove that she was heating to cook chips for her three-year-old daughter Emmalee’s lunch had ignited.
“It was all black from the smoke and there was orange flames. I just picked up my baby and my little girl and ran out,” she said.
Once outside, Te Waaka realised she had no way of calling the fire brigade.
“I laid my baby down on the grass and ran back in to get my phone.”
The distressed family waited outside the house for the fire brigade.
“I was screaming for help but no one came,” she said. “Then the postie came along and saw me crying on the footpath, she asked if I was ok. I said, no, my house is on fire, and she grabbed Emma for me.”
The postie stayed with Te Waaka, cuddling little Emmalee, until well after the two fire trucks and crews from the Hāwera Volunteer Fire Brigade had arrived.
“She said she had came back because she had forgotten to post some mail. I don’t know her name, she’s the awesome postie lady,” Te Waaka said said.
The fire was quickly put out by firefighters with a dry powder extinguisher.
“They are very, very lucky people,” chief fire officer Mike Fairweather said.
“The smoke alarm activated early, that helped them get out of the house, it saved the house from becoming fully involved.”
Once firefighters had ventilated the house to remove the smoke, and checked for hot spots, the family was allowed back in.
Property manager Stanella Nui of First National Real Estate said the rented house had an extra smoke alarm installed in the lounge, as well as the ones required by law near the bedrooms, and this had activated, alerting the tenant to the fire very soon after it ignited.
In just two minutes, a fire can become lift-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames. Scary isn’t it! This doesn’t give you much time to think about how to get yourself or family member to safety. Taking the time to an escape plan in place with your family, friends or boarders could potentially save a life.
An Escape Plan will ensure you know the best escape locations around your home with an active course of action should you become trapped by fire. When designing an escape plan, everyone in the home should be included. Make sure everyone knows the plan of escape as well as where to meet should you become separated during a fire emergency.
You should consider escape locations, meeting places and the best times to call for help. This plan can also be used for other emergency situations. If you have children, helping them know what to do can assist in managing panic and fear should the worst ever happen.
How do you make a fire plan? Here are a few elements to consider when making a plan:
- Draw a floor plan so you can review ways to escape from each room
- Keep door and window keys easily accessible
- Try to keep all exits clear
- Decide on a meeting point that is a safe distance from the house (letterbox, clothesline, at a neighbours home, a nearby street sign)
- Remind everyone that when you get out – you stay out. Never return into a burning building
- Practice! It is essential that everyone in the household knows what to do in the event of a Fire.