Designing with Mother Earth in Mind

UNIVERSAL HOMES: Fire Safety in your Home

Meeting your Needs

Individuals are at risk every year because there has been no consideration as to what they will do in an emergency. There are many easy steps that we can take to prevent fires. There are also actions we can take to prepare in the event of an emergency. Consider your needs in an emergency situation
  • Can you hear the fire alarm from all the areas of your home?
  • Do you know what you need to do if there is a fire?
  • Are your smoke detectors up to date and working?
  • Can you evacuate your home independently?
  • If you need assistance, have you made arrangements for the evacuation?
  • Does everyone know what they need to do in an emergency?
  • Is there a fire safety plan?
  • Can you communicate easily during an emergency?

Fire Safety Planning

Especially individuals with disabilities, seniors and parents with little kids should be very aggressive in preparing a fire safety plan. Talk to the fire fighting industry or even the security industry for valuable advice. In an emergency, the first responders gain access to your home in the most efficient ways, this is normally by breaking down the front door.

Consider Everyone's Abilities

Consider everyone’s abilities, guests, children and other family members. How will their abilities impact the communication and evacuation orders to evacuate your home in an emergency? Children and babies rely on their parents for their safety. People with disabilities may not be able to move quickly. The elderly is less confident and more easily confused. There are different abilities around us and it may impact the way we meet our fire safety needs. Consider your home and design it for the right individual needs.

Installing Safety Devices

Every home has to have a smoke alarm. Ensure that it is working and make sure it is in the right spot. If you are deaf or maybe hard of hearing, smoke alarms now come with combined visual and audible signals. These smoke alarms make loud noises and flash lights too. It is advisable to install vibrating alarm systems next to someone who has a hearing loss.

Make your home Fire safe

Consider the materials your home will be constructed from. It is important to choose fire proof materials to build your home with, especially when we are closer to other homes. The NCC (National Construction Code) has fire rating codes that we need to adhere to, and we can always build a home that exceeds these requirements that have been set out in the NCC. Here is some extra advice
  • Always have a fire extinguisher ready
  • Keep an eye on the stove top and keep a lid nearby
  • Keep the stoves and fireplace clean and tidy
  • Keep the fire evacuation routes clear of clutter
  • Plan 2 evacuation routes
  • Choose a family meeting place
  • Do not overload electrical outlets
  • Keep heaters away from anything that can burn
  • Ensure the electrical cords are safe
  • Keep a working flashlight in your bedside drawer
  • Smoke outside
  • Do not extinguish your cigarettes in potted plants near your home
  • Keep lighters and matches out of reach of younger children
  • Be vigilant while using candles
  • Test your alarms regularly
  • Have regular fire drills
If you have a disability, take the following extra precautions

Low vision/ Blind

  • Keep the cooking area free of clutter
  • Keep your passages and fire evacuation route clear
  • If you can’t evacuate independently, consider alternative evacuation strategies such as a safe holding room or a buddy
  • Have 2 escape routes
  • Have an evacuation plan. Practice the plan regularly. Practice both escape routes
  • Have a safe spot to meet outside
  • Save the emergency department numbers into your phone. Keep the phone beside your bed
  • Anyone with low vision or are blind should have an unobstructed and clearly marked fire exit routes leading to the fire exit.
  • Have a door that leads to the outside from your bedroom

Mobility Issues

  • Design your kitchen so you don’t have to reach over the stove
  • Install a fire extinguisher where it is easily reachable
  • Install electrical outlets slightly higher
  • Sleep on the main floor level that is accessible to the outdoors
  • Have a door that leads to the outside from your bedroom

Hard of Hearing/ Deaf

  • Save the number for the NRS (National Relay Service) – 0423 677 767. SMS 000 to the number and NRS computer system will recognise your text as an emergency message and will give it priority over other non-emergency calls. In your text include the service you need and the exact address or location of the emergency
  • Install a visual alarm in your home or have a vibrating pager or pillow next to you
  • Make sure your home is installed with visual alarm smoke detectors

Cognitive limitation/ Poor memory

  • Store 911 in your phone memory
  • Prepare a safety plan, write it down and keep it in different places around the house where you can find it in an emergency

Fire Sprinklers

Fire sprinklers react very quickly, hence they can reduce the heat, flames and smoke dramatically. A lot of people don’t realise this but they are available for single home installations too. A home fire sprinkler system starts automatically. They start sprinkling water at the earliest stage of fire. This gives us the extra precious time needed to escape to safety. It also limits the amount of damage to the home. Automatic sprinklers are very effective and reliable for fire protection in homes. They increase the chances of survival. Home fire sprinklers can control and at times may even be able to extinguish a fire in lesser time than it takes the fire fighters to reach the site. They may be expensive to install but they are worth it if you’re ever in the situation.
Fire safety plans are a must to include in all your homes. They don’t need to be complicated. The simplest plan is the best.

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