Plan your escape in case of a house fire
The New Zealand Fire Service’s message is simple: Get out, stay out and then call 111.
Waking up to screeching smoke alarms and your bedroom filling with smoke is the stuff of nightmares.
But in New Zealand, house fires are all too common – and all too devastating. Last year, the New Zealand Fire Service attended more than 5000 house fires, some of them fatal.
But many of those fatalities could have been prevented with a little forward planning. Here are some ways you can prepare for the worst:
HAVE AN AGREED SAFE MEETING PLACE
Your family’s escape plan starts with a safe meeting place. It might sound simple, but it could save lives. In some cases, people who make it out of a house fire can’t find their family, so they go back into the burning house only to never make it out again – when all along everyone is safe, they just didn’t meet at the same place.
Agree on a safe meeting place, such as beside your letterbox or under the big tree outside your house, that’s easy to find day or night and preferably by the road so you can tell the fire service if anyone is missing as soon as they arrive. And remember: once you’re out, stay out.
CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS
In 80 per cent of New Zealand’s fatal fires, smoke alarms are either not installed or faulty. Smoke alarms save lives. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t have any installed, do it today – the New Zealand Fire Service will even install them for you. But a smoke alarm is useless if it doesn’t work, so check the batteries regularly too (the beginning and end of daylight saving is a good reminder).
CHECK YOUR EXITS
Don’t rely on the obvious exits to get you out safely. Try to plan two ways out of every room. Make sure that windows can be easily opened, and always keep keys in deadlocks. Smoke can obstruct your vision so be aware of the obstacles that might block the path to your nearest exit. Get your children involved by asking them to draw a layout of your home including arrows where they can safely escape, and keep it on the fridge so it’s always front-of-mind.
DON’T FORGET VULNERABLE PEOPLE
If a young, elderly or physically-impaired person lives in your home, make sure your escape plan caters for them too. If you have time, don’t forget your pets.
LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND
In the event of a fire, don’t take anything with you; your life is more important than personal belongings.
Close doors behind you to prevent the spread of fire, and get down, get low, get out – and stay out.
Once you get outside, call 111 or ask a neighbour to.
To show you why you need an escape plan and a safe meeting place, The New Zealand Fire Service has just launched Escape My House, a 360-degree video experience that gets you up close and personal with a real house fire.
Confronting footage of a real house fire teaches viewers how important it is to have an escape plan, just in case the unthinkable happens to them. To experience it for yourself, visit escapemyhouse.co.nz. From there, you can go on to easily create your own customised escape plan using the online Escape Planner tool.
The New Zealand Fire Service has just launched Escape My House, a 360-degree video experience of a real house fire.