In Case of Fire
Electrical Fire Safety
Is the direct telephone number for the local Fire Brigade
posted on or near the telephone? Are the numbers large enough to quickly
read in a fire emergency?
Is your house number visible from the street so that
emergency vehicles can find you? Can it be seen easily?
Has your family made and practiced a fire escape plan
with at least two ways out? If you deadlock your doors, do you keep the
keys ready for an emergency escape? Are they located near the exit doorways?
Have you arranged a safe meeting place outside?
Do you have a smoke detector installed in your home?
Is it checked monthly?
Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home?
Is your garden hose permanently attached to the tap
and does it reach all points of the house?
Do all members of your family know to Stop, Drop and
Roll if clothing catches fire?
Home Heating Fire Safety
Do you always have electrical repairs, alterations or
renovations done by a qualified electrician?
Are the cords to electrical appliances kept in good
repair and not placed under rugs or through doorways?
Do you ensure that power points are not overloaded?
Is your electric blanket switched off before you get
Are televisions, stereos, videos and other electrical
equipment operated with enough space around them to prevent overheating?
Are all your electrical appliances switched off and
unplugged after use?
General Housekeeping for Fire Safety
Do you always use a fire screen with an open fire in
your fire place?
Is the heating equipment in your home properly installed
and maintained so the flues and filters are cleaned and there are no leaks
Are heating appliances kept safely away from combustible
items such as curtains, furniture and laundry?
Are matches kept out of reach of the children?
Are light bulbs prevented from touching any material
that could ignite?
Do smokers dispose of ashes, used matches and other
materials carefully? Do they ever smoke in bed?
Are flammable liquids stored in proper containers away
from heat or open flame? Are they used with care, with good ventilation?
Do you regularly remove old rags, newspapers, and other
household rubbish which could feed a fire?
Do you regularly clean the lint filter of your clothes
Smoke detectors saves lives. Installing them at home
is an easy and inexpensive precaution against tragedy.
Smoke detectors do no prevent or extinguish fires,
but they do provide an early warning that fire has started, giving you
precious extra time to evacuate and call the fire brigade. This is especially
important at night, when occupants of the house are asleep. Most fatalities
from house fires occur at night.
Choosing a smoke detector
While there are a wide range of fire alarm units
and systems available, for most existing homes a battery operated smoke
detector which you can install yourself is sufficient. New dwellings must
have the smoke alarm connected directly to the dwelling's power supply
as well as a battery back up.
There are two kinds of smoke detectors: ionisation
or photo electric. With either operating principle, an alarm is sounded
at the first trace of smoke.
Features you should look out for in choosing a smoke
Where to install your smoke detector
Australian Standards. Self contained smoke alarms must
comply with AS 3736. Look for the Standards mark issued by the Standards
Australia. Alternatively, smoke detectors labelled Scientific Services
Laboratory AS 3786 are acceptable.
Battery requirement. Look for smoke detectors that require
low cost, low voltage batteries that last at least one year.
Low battery warning. Smoke smoke detectors emit a "beep"
every 30 seconds for up to a month to indicate the battery needs replacement.
Test button. Smoke detectors must be testes regularly.
The test button should be easy to locate and operate, even when the smoke
detector is installed on the ceiling.
Because smoke rises, to detect smoke as early as
possible your smoke detector should be installed on the ceiling or high
on a wall.
The best placement of smoke detectors depends upon
the situation in your individual home. Keep the following pointers in mind:
Testing and maintaining your smoke detector
One smoke detector may not be enough. Install a smoke
detector outside each sleeping area and on each floor of the house. You
may also wish to install a smoke detector in the bedroom of someone who
is a particularly sound sleeper or who is apt to be careless with smoking
Kitchens. Many home fires start in kitchens. However
because smoke from cooking will set off the alarm installing a smoke detector
in kitchens can cause a nuisance. Special models are available for use
in kitchens and caravans.
Avoid draughts. Do not install smoke detectors near
windows, doors or air sources where drafts could affect alarm sensitivity.
Avoid dead air spaces. A dead air space is an area in
which trapped hot air will prevent smoke from reaching the alarm. This
generally occurs at the apex of cathedral ceilings and the corner
junction of walls and ceilings and between exposed floor joists.
On a ceiling. the smoke detector should be located 300mm
from any exposed beam, cornice or wall.
On a wall, the smoke detector should be located 300mmm
to 500mm from the ceiling.
On a cathedral ceiling, the smoke detector should be
located 500mm to 1500mmm from the highest point.
Stairways. On stairways, install detectors in the path
people will most likely take to evacuate the building. This will ensure
an alarm will be raised before smoke makes the exit impassable.
A smoke detector that doesn't operate in an emergency
is a dead loss. To keep the safety edge, remember to maintain your smoke
detector following the manufacture's instructions.
It is important to test the unit regularly, once
a month at the minimum. You should test the unit manually even if it has
an indicator light or low battery warning. When the batteries are low,
replace them. This is usually necessary once a year. Make it a habit to
replace the batteries once a year on a date you can remember, such as your
birthday, or when you change the clocks for daylight savings.
Keep the unit clean. Usually this requires carefully
vacuuming out the dust and dirt once a year. never paint your smoke detector-
paint could damage the unit.
What to when the alarm sounds
A fire alarm is only effective when people responds
properly. When you install your smoke detector, have a family meeting to
discuss fire emergencies. draw a floorplan of your house and mark exit
paths and alterative exits. Post the 000 number near your telephone. Practise
with your family what to do when the alarm sounds. Exit quickly and meet
outside at a pre-arrange meeting point (the letterbox is a good place)
to ensure everyone is safe. Crawl low in the smoke. Feel doors before opening
them. If they are hot, fire may be on the other side; take another route.
Once out, stay out. Remember. a smoke alarm gives you advance warning;
use those precious minutes to get out safely.