Fire!

I stay awake some nights unable to fight off the nightmare thought of not being able to get all the kids out in time if there’s a fire.

That, and wishing I hadn’t eaten a leftover sausage right before bed.

Worrying about what to do in these situations is something us parents do from the moment the messy little munchkins worm their way into our lives and hearts. “If something ever happened to you…” is something we hear echoing in our heads all the time.

Which is why it’s important to sort out your emergency plan and let the kids in on it.

Our family does a fire safety drill almost every week on our bus-home. Usually when I’m cooking bacon. And while it’s totes unintentional it’s still a useful exercise in keeping the kids on their toes and testing the smoke alarms are in working order.

Our plan is simple: Get down low and go go go and once you’re out, stay out and call Triple Zero (000). Save nothing but lives.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) approached me to put a reminder out there about some simple things you can do for the safety of your loved ones, and I readily agreed. For one thing, it’s a good opportunity to run through things myself and make sure everything is in place.

For another, I know an extraordinary number of people who’ve needed the services of a firefighter.

  • Tracey’s grandparents lost their home in a fire.
  • My dad set his kitchen on fire a few decades ago.
  • A client had their rental cindered.
  • A friend’s daughter’s car spontaneously combusted only a few weeks ago as she was driving to town.
  • A mate lit himself up using petrol to prompt a backyard fire to life.

FRNSW deal not only with fires but also all matter of rescues,  hazardous materials incidents, urban search and rescue deployments to supporting Police in counter-terrorism situations and much more. They excel in any emergency and are prepared for anything.

Try this yourself. Take a minute to count off on your fingers the number of people you know who have needed the services of FRNSW. I think you’ll surprise yourself.

You might have seen recently we were able to explain to our kids, in very visual terms, why we don’t allow chargers to be left on overnight.

“My charger is hot,” said Miss14 from the backseat of the car.

Thirty seconds later the bit plugged into her phone was actually smoking.

And while it’s nice to know firefighters are prepared for anything and are willing to run into situations most people are running away from; it makes sense to look for ways to prevent them.

As well as the two smoke alarms in our bus we have three all-purpose fire extinguishers and a fire blanket.

We had the same ideas at home. Lots of smoke alarms, a fire blanket in the kitchen and a couple of easy to access and sensibly placed fire extinguishers.

And a simple home escape plan everyone in the house understood and got to practice occasionally.

Weekly, in fact.

Like every time I was trying to sneakily cook myself bacon for my Sunday breakfast.

Because that’s just good parenting.

Fires

Winter is the worst time of year for fires. It can take just three minutes for a fire to take hold, but a few simple steps can help you prevent one.

Smoke Alarms: Only working smoke alarms save lives. Ensure you have working smoke alarms installed throughout your home and test them regularly.

Cooking Up a Storm: Kitchen fires account for 45 per cent of all residential fires and 34 per cent of injuries in NSW. To avoid kitchen fire catastrophes, never ever leave cooking unattended. Always remember to ‘Keep Looking When Cooking’.

Fire starters: Never use flammables such as petrol, kerosene or methylated spirits to start a fire. They can explode and cause serious injury.

Storage: Store matches or lighters in a secure place not accessible by young children.

Chimney: If you have a fireplace in your home, make sure the chimney is clean, and is properly ventilated. Additionally, place a screen in front of it when in use to prevent embers and sparks from escaping and injuring someone or causing a nearby flammable object to catch fire.

Heaters

A place of their own: When using home heaters, remember to keep everything in the house a metre from the heater, including clothing, curtains, tablecloths and bedding.

Bedwarmers

Fit for purpose: Never use wheat bags to warm your bed. There is the potential for them to start a fire.

Electric blankets: Check for damaged or frayed cords before fitting an electric blanket, and never go to bed with one on or leave home without turning them off.

Powerboards

Rat’s nest: Don’t overload the power boards. It sounds obvious, but we’ve all done it. One plug, one socket.

Dryer

Filters: Clean the lint filter every time you go to use it. Don’t be like me and have your wife constantly accusing you of trying to make Barbie lint rugs.

Candles

Position Position Position: Keep candles away from curtains and other flammable materials, and don’t let them keep burning after you’ve gone to bed or left the home.

Bringing The Outdoors Inside

Keeping the outdoors outdoors: Do not use outdoor heating and cooking equipment inside your home. The use of this type of equipment indoors could lead to the build-up of carbon monoxide which could be fatal.

Exit Plan

Get down low and go go go: Make sure you and all your family members know two safe ways out of every room in your home.

Write it down and know know know: You should also have a written home escape plan in case of fire and practice it regularly. In case of an emergency; Get Out, Stay Out and Call Triple Zero (000)

 Raising a family on little more than laughs

This post is sponsored by NSW Fire & Rescue

4 Comments

  • When our Four Kids were very small I changed the youngest sons nappy in the wee hours of the morning I threw the sheet over the mosquito coil not knowing I did and it smouldered until my eldest son started calling out FIRE Fire fire which woke us up with a hell of a jolt to see smoke all throughout the rooms..lucky he did scream otherwise we could have all lost our lives ..Learnt a big lesson though…
    Understand completely
    Ps those were the days of mosquito coils

  • Good one Bruce.
    You’ve reminded me that I have not replaced our stuff after leaving it all at the old house. I did however get all new smoke detectors fitted when I first bought the place, so that’s a start! 😎

  • Thank you for the reminder Bruce. I know we were shown our all purpose fire extinguisher at hand over of our motorhome, but where is it? In the cupboard by the door I thought. But no, its behind/in front of the passenger seat (depending on which way its facing). We didn’t have an exit plan. We do now. Our exit plan if we cant get to the door is out one of the back windows. Geoff will help me up and push me out and I’ll catch him as he lands. Yeah right! Humour should help us remember. And thanks for the reminder that lives are important – stuff is not.

  • My young adult son managed to leave a hot lighter on his bed and burned their rental house down.
    I would add that we teach our older kids how to smother/ extinguish and contain a fire. By the time he went to fill a bucket the whole bed was on fire and he didn’t know to close doors behind as they left, which could have bought them enough time to evacuate the animals. Luckily they all survived

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