CHECKLIST: Is your family ready for house fire season
ARCHIE Andrews has certainly seen a lot of house fires over his 33 year career with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.
And far too many were easily avoidable.
The Times spoke to Mr Andrews following the Kingaroy house fire on Logan Rd about all the ways you can ensure your household is prepared this house fire season and what to do if you find yourself in the worst case scenario.
"Now is the perfect time to be preparing your family and your household," Mr Andrews said.
"With everyone at home due to the virus it's a great time to make a fire escape plan together and take the time to ensure your home is ready for fire season.
"It's crucial to change the nine volt batteries on all of your fire alarms come April 1 every year. A lot of people may have missed the memo this year with coronavirus taking up the airwaves, so make sure you've stocked up on brand new batteries and have changed all of the alarms in your house and disposed of the old batteries."
Under the changes to Queensland's smoke alarm legislation all domestic dwellings leased and sold are required to have interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms in all bedrooms, in hallways that connect bedrooms and with the rest of the dwelling and on every level as of January next year.
So it may be a good time to use the isolation period to make sure your household ticks all the boxes.
Mr Andrews said if you don't already have an evacuation plan it was high time to make one.
"There's no point having a plan if you don't practice it, so make sure you've gone over the drill as a family several times and revise the plan again every couple of months to make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do."
Your family can create an evacuation plan by heading to the QFES website here.
My Andrews also stressed parents need to take every singe precaution possible if they have young children around.
"You must keep all lighters, matches, candles and flammables out of reach preferably in lockable cupboards or cabinets.
"Too often we are called out to house fires started by curious little ones, so keep these items out of eyesight and reach at all times.
"We also see a number of fires caused by people trying to do too much at a time.
"I know everyone is very busy these days but multi-tasking is never a good idea … just take on one job at a time. Put the kids through the bath, then start dinner - don't try to juggle everything at once."
Coming into the cooler months Mr Andrews said it was vital your household ensures all heating devices are up to safety standards and have been cleaned and services recently by an electrician.
"It's important to get certified electricians to come and test your heating devices to ensure nothing is faulty and at risk of starting a fire.
"We've seen countless house fire start from something as seemingly harmless as a little space heater, so make sure your appliances pass the safety test before using them this Winter.
"It's also a good time to test your safety switches on your electrical board and give the flume in your chimneys a good clean out. Cover all the bases."
Mr Andrews also wanted to take the opportunity to remind households with open log fires only to burn clean, untreated timber.
"You can't burn timber that's been treated with anything because the chemicals will not react well to heat and could pose a serious safety hazard to your family. Remember, raw natural timber only," he said.
Finally Mr Andrews has had some excellent advice for storing sentimental memories safely so that they may survive if a house fire was to destroy all your other possessions.
"Use this isolation period to back all your photos onto the cloud or Google Drive and back them up and share them with all your loved ones.
"That way when you have to evacuate, all you need to grab is your family.
"I always try to remind people we can always replace furniture and belongings but we can never replace lives. So please think about this house fire season and make sure you are prepared."
HOUSE FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST:
1. Ensure you've changed the nine volt batteries in all your fire alarms and had an electrician service and reset the alarm if necessary.
2. Make sure you have the appropriate number of fire alarms installed in your home.
3. Ensure your household has an evacuation plan in place and have rehearsed the drill several times and ensure all family members know how to dial triple 0 in the case of an emergency.
4. Purchase an extinguisher or fire blanket and have it ready in an easy access location in the event of a fire breaking out.
5. Back up all your photos on the cloud or family drive.
6. Ensure your household has the appropriate level of house and/or content insurance.
7. Make sure all lighters, candles, matches and flammable objects are safely stored away out of reach of children.
8. Have an authorised electrician come and test all of your home appliances for faults to ensure they won't pose any fire risks.
9. Test your safety switches on your electrical board to ensure they are working properly.
10. Try to limit multi-tasking around your household by remembering to tackle one task at a time.
11. Only ever burn raw, untreated timber in your fireplaces.