Residents had managed to flee to safety only minutes before the house was burnt down in the recent fire in Paddington, QLD.

A house fire is most people’s worst nightmare – watching all your belongings burn in front of your eyes is an awfully distressing thought. Home fires are an extremely unfortunate event that consumes and destroys billions of dollars of property, and even worse, injures and kills thousands of Australians every year.

There are many steps you can take to drastically reduce the chances of a house fire. Smoke alarms save lives and fortunately many houses have working smoke alarms installed, but sadly, there are many residences with alarms that are either out of battery or do not work. Smoke alarms work very quickly to detect smoke, and whether you are awake or asleep, the quick detection provided by the alarms could make the difference between life and death.

Another step in the prevention against home fires is to create an escape plan in case of a fire. Once created, the plan should be practiced at least twice yearly with all residents, so that everyone knows how to quickly and safely escape if a fire was to occur.

Unfortunately, in some circumstances, it is too late for the resident to detect a fire in the intial stage and the fire has already started to spread. To escape, everyone must act as quickly as possible. Most people die from inhaling the toxic smoke from a house fire, not the actual fire, and it is important to get down low on the floor (where the least amount of smoke will be) and crawl to the nearest escape.

Make sure to call 000 within Australia and 111 within New Zealand as soon as you possibly can and remain calm so that the operator can understand you and dispatch the appropriate help.

Losing your home to a fire is an awfully emotional and financially stressful time, and it can take a very long time to recover from. If you are insured, make sure to contact your insurance company as soon as possible as they will guide you through the steps on recovering financially after the fire. If you are in need of temporary housing or food, disaster relief funds such as The Red Cross will be able to support you.

For more information about smoke alarms, please also read our article “Life-Saving Devices for Your Family”.