Fire Brigade warns households of the need for a home escape plan

Published: 1st July 2008

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today urged residents to ensure they had a home escape plan this winter, following the deaths of three people in housefires last month.

Commissioner Mullins said that while statistics indicated that people were getting the message about smoke alarms, only 22 per cent1 of NSW residents had a home escapeplan.

"It's encouraging to see that around 93 per cent2 of all NSW residents now have smoke alarms installed in their homes but it's vital that you know what to do once the smokealarm sounds.

"You have only a few minutes to escape a fire, so every second counts. A home escape plan will ensure that you and family know how to safely evacuate the house once you havebeen alerted to a fire."

Throughout the month of July, NSWFB firefighters will be working with their localcommunities to raise awareness about home escape plans.

Commissioner Mullins said that family and carers of the elderly and people with disabilities needed to take into consideration mobility issues and medical conditions when developinga home escape plan.

"It is important to develop an escape plan that is practical and addresses any limitationspeople might have in terms of their movement and ability to escape quickly.

"We encourage people who are elderly, or who work with older people or people with disabilities, to develop and practice a home escape plan - this will ensure that the escape plan can be implemented safely and effectively and will identify any potential hazardsalong the escape route," he said.

Commissioner Mullins said it was important to identify two exits from each room, and aplace to meet once everyone had safely evacuated.

1 2006 NSW Population Health Survey, NSW Health
2 2007 NSW Population Health Survey, NSW Health 

"Where possible, you should identify two ways to get out of each room in the house. It isalso vital to ensure that windows and doors in your home can be opened quickly so theycan be used as escape points, without compromising the security of your home."

NSWFB’s top 10 tips for developing a home escape plan

  1. Draw a floor plan of your home on grid paper.
  2. Draw your escape plan, marking two exits from each room.
  3. Decide on a safe meeting place outside the house (for example the letterbox or neighbour’s driveway).
  4. Place the escape plan in a prominent position in the house (for example on the fridge).
  5. Discuss the escape plan with everyone who lives in the house.
  6. Make sure you develop an alternative escape plan for people with disabilities or mobility issues.
  7. Make sure that all windows, doors and fly screens can be easily opened from the inside in the event of an emergency.
  8. If you have pets, consider how you would get them out of the house if you needed to evacuate quickly.
  9. Have at least one smoke alarm per floor installed throughout the home and make sure they are working by testing them monthly and changing the batteries at least once a year.
  10. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year with everyone who lives in the house.
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