When leaving your house, always lock your doors and close windows. If possible, have a screen door or a safety chain so that you can see who is there before opening it. Keep a light on or use a sensor light near your front door so you can see when someone is there and easily unlock your door when returning home. It will also deter potential intruders.
Medicines and chemicals
Some drugs and chemicals commonly found around the home can cause harm or serious illness.
Keep all medicines out of reach of children and pets, or where children cannot find them.
If you stop taking medicines or they have passed their expiry date, do not put them in the garbage or down the drain. Your pharmacist can dispose of the remaining medicine safely and free of charge.
Keep all cleaning products in a locked cupboard where children and pets cannot access them.
Child safety equipment (such as cupboard locks) can be bought in most hardware shops.
Fire safety in the home
House fires cause around 50 deaths and many serious injuries every year in Australia.
Smoke alarms provide an early warning that may save your life and enable emergency services to be alerted in time to stop the spread of damage. This warning is particularly important at night, when people are asleep. Each house must have at least one smoke alarm installed at each floor level. Check and replace batteries every six months.
House fires often begin in the kitchen or are caused by faulty electrical wiring, incorrect use of appliances, or by leaving active appliances unattended. Prevent house fires by taking the following precautions.
In the home:
Ensure electronic devices have space around them to prevent overheating
Do not overload powerboards – one socket should have only one plug.
Check plugs and sockets for dust or damage and fix any problems promptly. All electrical repairs must be carried out by a qualified electrician.
Ensure curtains, clothing and bedding are clear of candles and heaters.
Never leave candles or other open flames burning when you are not in the room.
When you are home, make sure doors are not locked from the inside (i.e. deadlocked) so you can open them quickly in an emergency.
Never smoke in bed.
Ensure children can’t reach matches or lighters.
In the kitchen:
Never leave children in the kitchen unattended.
Never leave cooking unattended – if you leave the kitchen, turn the stove off until you return.
Keep children away from hotplates, stovetops and ovens while cooking.
Turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove so they can’t be knocked and spilled. Hot water can also cause burns.
Ensure flammable items are kept clear of heat sources.
Never put metal items in a microwave oven, including metal bowls, aluminium foil or metal utensils.
Gas is used in some kitchens and barbeques. Always turn off the gas oven or stovetop when you finish using it. If you smell gas, do not light a match because a flame will make the gas explode. Look for the source of the gas leak and turn it off immediately. If you can’t, call triple zero 000 and ask for “Fire Brigade”. Do not hang up the phone.
What to do if there is a fire:
Call triple zero 000 from a neighbour's house, public or mobile phone and ask for the fire brigade. Tell them where the fire is and if anyone is still inside. Do not hang up the phone.
State fire services provide detailed advice on what to do in case of a fire. See Chapter 2, Get Help.
Bushfire safety plans
In some parts of Australia bushfires can affect the safety of your home. If you live in a place that is at risk of bush fires, make a bush fire survival plan. Local fire services have information and guides to help you prepare a bush fire survival plan.
Your plan should include actions before the bushfire season, during the bushfire season, leading up to fire risk days and a back-up plan. It should include detailed checklists to maintain your property, to prepare your property in case of fire, personal contact lists in case of fire, contents of an emergency kit, plans for all the people staying in the house which take account of particular needs (for instance, mobility of infants or the elderly), plans for pets and/or livestock, triggers to leave, means of departure, a back-up plan, and a plan of return to your house.
For more bushfire information and contact details for local fire services, see Chapter 2, Get Help.