Many impressive women have sat in the interview chair for busy women on our podcast — I Don’t Know How She Does It — and shared their secrets for how the hell they organise their lives.
I have learned that I should be sending kids to bed in their clothes from the uber-organised Madeleine West. And that I needed to turn the TV off to make my morning run more smoothly, from Natalie Bassingthwaighte.
But this week I learned something that might ACTUALLY save my life. And the lives of my family. Like, really.
Keiran Shield is a fire-fighter, working for Fire and Rescue NSW. She’s been doing it for more than ten years. Her husband is also a fire-fighter (swoon) and they have a six-year-old daughter they raise around their shifts.
Keiran came into our studio to tell us about how organised you have to be to be to juggle between managing a fire station and raising a family — absolutely EVERYTHING is on an Excel document — and also, how to avoid being one of the people she sends a brigade to save.
This is what she wants you to know (Post continues after audio):
1. Check your fricking smoke alarm.
It’s been 10 years since it became a law to have a smoke alarm in your home in NSW and it’s worth noting that most smoke alarms expire after ten years. So get a new one. “The new smoke alarms are photo-electric, they are more sensitive to the type of house fires we have,” she says. The new ones, she adds are much better anyway, and much less likely to go off when you burn your sausages.
2. Think twice about electric blankets.
“Winter’s problem is heaters and electric blankets – because they have been folded up all summer – and so [I would recommend] getting them tested and making sure they are still working. And if you think there is an issue just throw them out.” They don’t have electric blankets in their house, btw.
3. Don’t plug too many things in.
The most common causes of the house fires that Keiran’s crew gets called out to are “overloaded power boards” and dysfunctional electric equipment.
4. Scrap the scented candles.
But they smell sooooo lovely, right? Wrong. “We don’t have candles,” says Keiran, because they are also on the list of the things that start common house fires.
5. Turn everything off.
“I am terrible when we go away, I am turning off every single powerpoint. Unplugging absolutely everything possible.” Okay, okay, Keiran, we are taking notes.
6. Don’t leave your dishwasher/washing machine/dryer running. Ever.
If you’re going out, if you’re going to bed, if you’re popping to the shop just for a minute? Nope. “We don’t leave the dishwasher or the dryer or the washing machine on when we aren’t home. We don’t leave them running overnight. Just things that can possibly overload.”
Keiran has seen too much.
You can listen to the whole conversation with firefighter Keiran Shields, including how giving birth terrified her way more than running into a burning building, here: