Here’s hoping you never have to deal with a fire at home or at work, as they are just the worst disasters of all. Nothing is more terrifying than flames and colossal heat, and smoke can be just as deadly. Small fires can become big ones in an unbelievably short time, so you may have to act quickly to either stop the fire or get yourself away from danger.
Here are some tips on what you can do to avoid a fire or deal with one should the unimaginable happen:
Before a fire
- Install smoke alarms. Seriously, do it now. A lot of fires happen when you’re asleep so you may only realise your house is on fire once it’s too late. Putting in a smoke alarm now could save your life. Remember to change batteries regularly
- Buy yourself some fire extinguishers, especially for the kitchen as that is where many fires start
- Make sure your doors aren’t blocked by objects and don’t use your doorknobs as clothes hangers. You want them clear in case you need to get out in a hurry
- Work out an agreed meeting place with everyone in your home or workplace so you all know where to go if you’re separated by fire. This is especially important if you live in an apartment building or are working in an office block or factory.
During a fire
- If a fire starts up – put it out if it is safe to do so! The best thing to do is to cut it off from oxygen – that means covering the flames with anything that’s not flammable
- See if you can spot where the fire or smoke is coming from. If a door handle feels hot, don’t go in there, try and escape another way if possible
- Keep doors shut as fires are fuelled by oxygen – keeping them closed will help slow the spread of fire
- Get out of there! Remember this saying: ‘Get Down, Get Low, Get Out’ because the lower you get the more you’ll escape the smoke. Crawl low and fast to get out and away
- Take the stairs not the elevator – use outside stairs if you have them
- Get everyone out that you can, then meet at a safe distance from the fire. If you’ve agreed on a meeting place, meet there
- Once you’re out, stay out – never go back inside
- Call 111 and ask for the Fire Service. Stay calm and make sure you tell them:
- your house number and street
- your suburb
- your rural ID number if you have one
- If your clothes catch fire – Stop. Drop. Roll. Fire burns upwards so the lower and flatter you can get the better.
While you can’t stop all fires from happening, you definitely can minimise the chances of having one by not having naked flames in the house, leaving cooking food unattended and overloading electrical outlets. Many fires are started by electrical faults, so if you’re in a flat or an apartment and you’re worried about your home’s wiring get your landlord to have it checked out.
To keep up to date with what to do in a fire, visit the New Zealand Fire Service