Daylight savings reminder: Change the batteries in your smoke alarm.

This is all you need to remember over the Easter break.

One of the scariest things to imagine as a parent is the thought of your house going up in flames – of your house setting alight while your children are inside.

That’s why knowing fire safety and having a proper fire alarm is so important.

We were lucky enough to speak to Senior Fire Fighter, Melanie Rebane who has been a fire fighter for over 10 years and has worked at the Bondi, Sydney City and Parramatta stations to find out exactly what we need to know about fire safety and why it’s so important to change your alarm batteries this weekend.

Q: How can you teach your kids fire safety?

M: Teaching your children about fire risks in the home and what to do if there is a fire is a great start. At Fire & Rescue NSW, we teach kids fire safety by making it engaging and fun. For example, we created the Brigades Kids website to encourage learning about important fire safety messages through games and play.

By teaching your children the dangers, they will be aware of safe behaviours and be able to prevent fires.

Fire safety is important to consider for your family.

Q: What can they do if there's a fire?

M: Fires are dangerous and can engulf an entire room in just under three minutes. It’s important kids know not to try and put the fire out themselves and to move quickly for a safe escape. If there is a fire, teach them to tell an adult; get down low and go, go, go!; get out and stay out!; and call Triple Zero.

Q: What conversation(s) do you need to have with your kids about fire safety?

M: A fire will happen when you least expect it so it’s always good to discuss what to do in case of a fire in your home. You can develop your home escape plan using our escape grid and instructions, then make sure you practice it.

Practice your home escape plan with your kids by pressing the test button on your smoke alarm and getting them to ‘get down low and go, go, go!’ to the nearest safe exit, alerting an adult as they go, then getting out of the house and meeting at a safe place (your letterbox is a good idea). Teach them it’s important that once they are outside, never to go back into a burning building even for their pets or prized possessions. Ask them the number to call for a fire, ‘000’ and if they remember their address. Firefighters will take seven to ten minutes to arrive to put the fire out.


It’s also wise to discuss how fires can occur in the home ie. knowing the risks. You can play a game ‘spot the hazards’ and ask your child to spot all the fire risks in a room, for example, the kitchen, lounge room or the laundry.

Think about the precautions.

Q: What's the number one fire safety rule all families should have?

M: Every home should have a practiced fire escape plan which starts with a working smoke alarm.

Q: What's the number one thing that starts fires in the home?

M: Leaving cooking unattended.

Q: What's the most dangerous thing in the house?

M: The kitchen – make sure you keep flammable materials such as tea towels, curtains and loose sleeves and clothing away from stove tops, especially when you are cooking. Always turn pot handles inwards and never leave cooking unattended. Turn off all appliances when not in use. Electrical appliances are the second highest cause of fires.

Change the batteries.

Q: Why do you have to change your smoke alarm batteries?

M: Only a working smoke alarm will help save your life. To ensure your smoke alarm is kept in good working order, we recommend changing the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. That’s why Fire & Rescue NSW supports Duracell’s annual ‘Change your clock! Change your smoke alarm battery!’ at the end of daylight saving which is coming up this Sunday on April 5. We recommend using a 9V alkaline battery like Duracell Ultra 9V.

As a firefighter, seeing fires where people haven’t had a working smoke alarm can be upsetting. It’s such a simple measure that can save your life especially at night time when you are asleep and the smell of smoke won’t wake you. Only a working smoke alarm will give you an early warning to get you and your family out safely, which is what every fire fighter wants to see when they arrive at a house fire.

How often do you change your smoke alarm?

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