If you’re like most people, you probably think of fire as a major disaster that can only be handled by professionals. But did you know that in some cases, you may be able to handle a fire emergency yourself? In this post, we’ll discuss what to do after a fire incident, including how to provide first aid and when to call for help. Stay safe!
CAUSES OF FIRE INCIDENT
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has identified several of the most common causes of fire. These include the following.
From 2015 to 2019, cooking was the leading cause of home fires, home fire injuries, and the second most common cause of home fire deaths. 49% of reported home fires, 20% of reported home fire deaths, and 42% of reported home fire injuries were caused by cooking.
A possible fire threat exists in every appliance that either produces heat on its own (like stoves, dryers, and heaters) or heats up after prolonged usage (like computers and fans). Cooking pots that are left unattended while they are in use are a common source of fires that could have been prevented.
Any electrical device has the potential to start a fire, and overheated lighting equipment is at the top of the list. Poor electrical work within a home — poorly connected circuits, loose wires, improper grounding — is another risk that many homeowners are unaware of.
Cigarettes fire are among the leading causes of accidental deaths at home. While smoking, people have been known to fall asleep. As a result, they risk setting their bed, chair, or couch on fire, which might potentially result in death. Putting hot ashes in the garbage bin, where they can catch fire, is another potential hazard.
“A burning candle should never be left alone,” reads the warning on every candle. Many candles, however, are left unattended and quickly burn out of control. An increase in the number of reported candle fires is seen on Christmas Eve, as well as on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Sources of natural gas or propane gas are common culprits when it comes to starting fires in the home. An accidental spark in combination with a minute leak might produce a scenario that is very flammable. The improper mixing of chemicals found in the home can also cause combustion, which is why it is imperative to carry out activities of this nature in a place that is not a private residence.
During the summer months, when afternoon and early evening storms are at their greatest, lightning is responsible for the majority of the fires that are started. Lightning strikes have the potential to ignite the surrounding environment and cause further damage to homes that are located in densely wooded areas.
It is not always possible to avoid the situation. Even when we do everything right, follow all of the rules, and adhere to all of the conventional wisdom, fire may still be notoriously difficult to control. Naturally, the fact that we light fires in our houses is one of the leading contributors to the frequency with which these blazes occur. A single errant ember from an active flame, for instance, can set a carpet on fire if it happens to be nearby. However, this problem typically does not arise if the fire is controlled appropriately and never left unattended.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE FIRE?
There are a few things you need to be aware of now that the fire has been out. The following items should be checked off on the list, as per Fire and Rescue New South Wales:
Step 1: Secure the Location
- Prevent any additional damage to the location of the fire that could be caused by the weather, theft, or vandalism. Do not abandon the site in an unsecured state.
- If you are the owner of the property, it is your job to ensure that any openings are protected from suspicious entry, including rain and intrusion. Check that all of the property’s doors, including those on the outside, can be locked and secured. Fire and Rescue NSW will assist in securing the premises until the duty for doing so may be transferred to the occupants of the building or an insurance company.
- If you are the occupant of the space, you are responsible for notifying your landlord or real estate agent about the fire. A general contractor or a company that specialises in fire damage restoration can aid you with boarding up the property if you are unable to get in touch with them and require professional assistance. Check the directory listings in your area.
- If you have plans to depart the site, you should make every effort to remove any valuables that may still be within the building.
- Make a claim with your own insurance company by contacting your agent.
Step 2: Take Caution
- Before the electricity is turned back on, the electrical wiring in your home should be inspected by a qualified electrician since it may have been damaged by water.
- It is important to check for structural damage caused by the fire, as it may have compromised roofs and floors. It’s possible that the Building Inspector for the local council can assist you.
- Dispose of food, drink, and medicines in the appropriate manner if they have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.
- When left unopened, the temperature inside refrigerators and freezers will remain stable for a limited period of time. However, do not make any attempts to refreeze anything that has already been thawed.
- Before leaving the scene, Fire and Rescue New South Wales will call for the services of gas, fuel, and electricity in order to disconnect the necessary supplies.
- It is your obligation to have the services checked and reconnected by a licenced trade person in the event that a utility (such as gas, electricity, or water) is disconnected at your location. Do not make any attempts to re-establish the connection on your own.
- Start keeping track of every receipt for every dollar that you spend. These are essential because you may use them to demonstrate to the insurance company how much money you have spent on your fire loss-related expenses and also use them to verify the number of damages you have claimed.
Step 3: Insurance Claims
- Get in touch with the manager of the insurance claims department.
- If the circumstances have compelled you to leave the damaged fire building, you are obligated to inform the claims manager of any loss or damage that has occurred and provide them with a forwarding address as well as a phone number.
- Because the insurance company needs to notify the insurance assessor to carry out the inspection, the processing time for an insurance claim is directly proportional to how quickly the insurance company is notified of the incident.
- Make an effort to create an inventory as soon as possible of the household objects that have been damaged by the fire, whether they are located within or outside the premises. When the loss assessor gets in touch with you, the claim will move through even more quickly thanks to the inventory of damaged objects. Do not get rid of any items that have been damaged until the insurance examiner has finished doing the inventory.
- In the event that you cannot remember the name of your insurance provider, you should get in touch with the Insurance Council of Australia.
Step 4: Temporary Shelter
- Call the authorities if you are required to evacuate your home because the fire has rendered it unsafe to remain there. They are able to maintain a watchful eye on the property while you are away.
- You should contact your insurance provider to find out whether or not you are covered by a clause in your policy that allows you to remain in a hotel as part of a temporary housing arrangement, or how soon you can get an advance on the eventual settlement of your insurance claim.
- If doing so does not put you in danger, you should look for the following items to bring with you:
- Various forms of identification are required, such as wallets and passports.
- Essential medications, such as those used to regulate blood pressure or insulin, are examples.
- Glasses, hearing aids, prosthetic devices, and other personal aids and equipment include eyeglasses.
- items of monetary value, such as credit cards, cheque books, insurance policies, savings account books, and jewellery, as well as valuable items such as these.
Inform People of Your Whereabouts
After the fire incident, let your immediate contact people know of your whereabouts. It could be your employer, family and friends or your children’s school.
Australia Post. Depending on how long you’re moving, have them keep or forward your mail. Instructions are found on their website.
Online services are available for vehicles, licensing, and other state departments.
Gas, electricity, water, phone, and internet providers.
If there’s an investigation, the police.
Contact your insurance carrier first before making inventories or repairs.
Source: Fire and Rescue New South Wales
CALL TO ACTION
Although fires can be devastating, with the right precautions in place they can be manageable. Make sure you know what to do in the event of a fire by learning first aid response and taking necessary safety measures. And finally, don’t forget to ensure yourself or your business against potential losses – it could make all the difference in recovering from a damaging fire incident. Have you booked into our upcoming CPR First Aid course? This is an excellent opportunity to learn vital lifesaving skills that could one day help protect your workplace and employees. We are offering daily classes at our new venue at Suite 904, 343 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD.