by Deanne Burrell
PUT A FREEZE ON WINTER FIRES
Once the cold weather sets in, the risk of a fire in the home increases. More people start to use more appliances and heaters, and fires are cranked up. A fire can take hold in just minutes, but taking simple fire prevention steps takes only seconds.
New Zealand Fire Service figures show common causes of fire in winter are faulty appliances, overloaded multi boards, drying clothing too close to a heater or fire, hot ashes and embers not being properly disposed of, and blocked chimneys.
Throughout the year, the most common cause of fire in the home is unattended cooking. The number of these kitchen fires increases slightly in winter as more people cook and eat at home.
Between 15 to 20 people die in avoidable house fires each year and there are around 3800 fires in New Zealand homes each year. Each one causes an average of $40,000 worth of damage.
There are a number of fast, easy things that you can do to reduce fire risks in the home to protect yourself and your family from fire this winter.
• Keep looking while you are cooking.
• Keep everything at least a metre from a heater.
• Put hot ash and embers in a metal container and wet thoroughly before disposal (it can take up to five days for ash and embers to completely die out).
• Have your chimney and electric blankets checked before winter.
• Do not put too many plugs into your multi boards.
• Remember that smoke alarms save lives.
IF WE CAN’T GET TO YOU, WE CAN’T HELP YOU.
Delays in an emergency can be devastating.
If a fire breaks out, rural property owners face an increased risk due to their remote location. When we arrive our response can be compromised by our fire appliance not being able to gain access onto driveways due to overhanging branches or narrow gates and fence lines. There are also issues with no clear pathways to water resources on properties.
Remember the 4x4 Rule
In an emergency it is critical that our fire appliances and crews are able to get to you as soon as possible.
Access to driveways and water supplies
MUST have a width and height
clearance of at least four metres
Is your RAPID Number displayed clearly?
It is important that all rapid numbers are displayed clearly to enable faster response to incidents at rural properties.
RAPID stands for Rural Address Property Identification. It is a nationwide system for giving every rural property with a house an address that is easy to locate. As part of the process of allocating RAPID numbers, a GPS reading is also taken. Most local authorities have completed rural numbering and can provide you with your RAPID number and, for a small fee, a RAPID number plate.
The rural RAPID numbering system identifies your property and if used will ensure that all emergency services reach you as fast as possible. Call takers and dispatchers are better able to determine your location if you use the RAPID system.
If you have a rural address, your RAPID number should be clearly displayed on your front gate where it can be seen easily from both directions day and night. Keep directions for getting to your property, including your phone number and RAPID number by the phone and make sure every member of the family, even young children, can explain it. Show visitors where the directions are. Your RAPID number is assigned by your local council.
Take a moment to consider the safety of your home. Implementing a few simple precautions could make all the difference to your and your family’s safety this winter.