If you think a house fire won’t happen to you, think again.

According to a Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre study, residential fires claim more than 50 lives in Australia each year. That sombre toll is higher than the fatalities resulting from all natural hazards combined.

Tragically, the study concluded most of those deaths would have been avoided if the homeowner had put more rigorous fire protections in place.

But the silver lining is you can learn from their fatal mistakes. Taking a few simple steps to protect your home might save your life one day—or the lives of your loved ones.

Do You Have a Smoke Alarm(s)?

Not only is having a smoke alarm a legal requirement in Australia, but these life-saving devices are the most crucial bit of kit in your fire defence arsenal. While an alarm won’t prevent a fire from starting (or spreading), it will provide a crucial early warning to give you enough time to escape. Fire alarms sound at 85db, loud enough to wake even the heaviest sleeper.

While different models are available, the best residential option is the photoelectric smoke alarm. These detect slow smouldering flames, the most common house fire type, and are less susceptible to false alarms. Ensure your smoke alarm is ActivFire certified and complies with AS3786:2014 standards—we recommend the Lifesaver smoke alarm range.

Is Your Smoke Alarms In Working Order?

It’s not enough to purchase and install a smoke alarm; you need to ensure it’s working correctly. Tragically, non-functioning smoke alarms cause dozens of fatalities each year—they’re the leading cause of preventable house fire deaths.

While a good quality smoke alarm is a reliable safeguard, no device is perfect. Smoke alarms can fail to activate for various reasons, including flat (or removed) batteries, clogged insect screens, or a lapsed use-by date.

Therefore, it’s crucial to check your smoke alarm each month by pressing the test button. While you’re at it, vacuum the insect screen (if necessary) and review the manufacturer’s recommended expiry date.

However, the most common cause of smoke alarm failure is missing batteries. Nuisance alarms, also known as false alarms, are frustrating enough to prompt some homeowners to remove the batteries altogether—and the consequences can be deadly. Avoid the temptation and consider switching to a photoelectric alarm if nuisance alarms persist.

Do You Have a Fire Extinguisher in the Kitchen?

Have you ever seen what happens when you use water to extinguish an oil fire? Rather than douse the blaze, water causes an oil fire to spread rapidly. A fire extinguisher, on the other hand, will effectively extinguish an out-of-control kitchen fire in seconds. Furthermore, the handy little device works well on various other fire types, from candle-lit curtains to an electric blaze.

A wide range of fire extinguishers is available for home use. In general, however, it’s best to opt for a dry powder or foam fire extinguisher, as these multipurpose products have a high degree of versatility. Install yours in an easy-to-access area of your kitchen and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure it remains in good working order. You also need to know how to use the device—it’s best to study the instructions before a fire breaks out.

Do You Have A Fire Blanket?

Fire blankets are a cost-effective, easy-to-use layer of protection against household fires. While fire extinguishers can expire or prove confusing in a moment of panic, the humble fire blanket is always ready to act.

Made from non-flammable materials, the blanket simply smothers the blaze to deprive it of oxygen. Fire blankets work well in smaller blazes, especially oil fires in the kitchen. Don’t try to use one on large, uncontrolled flames, as you risk exposing yourself to intense heat and succumbing to severe burns.

The fire blanket also works well at extinguishing clothes caught on fire. Wrap it tightly around the affected person until you’ve smothered the blaze.

Have You Considered Fire Retardant Paint?

Fire retardant paints can slow the spread of a fire, which could prevent structural collapse or even save a life. Most new developments use these products in the kitchen or basement to prevent substrates from melting or becoming weak during a fire.

While flame retardant paint isn’t a guaranteed failsafe, it does make a notable difference—it’s worth investigating whether you’ve got it in your home. High-quality products look and feel just like ordinary paint, so you don’t have to compromise your interior aesthetics.

The Home Safety Store Can Help

The best time to safeguard your home from fire is right now. At the Home Safety Store, we sell a wide range of fire safety devices, including mains and battery-operated smoke alarms.

Don’t put your home or loved ones at risk. Browse our range of the most trusted smoke alarms in Australia today.