Queenslanders are being asked to take fifteen seconds to consider their fire escape plans this winter.
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Bill Byrne said a $400,000 advertising campaign would run from late May through to August using radio and online media to urge people to complete simple tasks and get them started on their fire escape plan.
“An escape plan is essential to get all occupants out safely before flames, smoke or toxic fumes take their toll and yet half of Queensland households do not have one,” Mr Byrne said.
“While we encourage homeowners to have a fire escape plan in place year-round, typically there is a spike in residential structure fires during the months of June, July and August and this was no different last year.
“Last winter Queensland firefighters attended a total of 561 residential structural fires in Queensland.”
Mr Byrne said a study based on last year’s campaign showed that most people saw value in the importance of discussing or agreeing on a plan but when it came down to documenting the plan, only half took any action.
“This year’s campaign uses a series of 15 second challenges to help motivate people to take the next step and draw up a household plan, rather than brushing it aside into the ‘too hard’ basket,” Mr Bryne said.
“When a smoke alarm sounds, you may have as little as 15 seconds to enact your fire escape plan.
“Tasks like deciding on a safe meeting place for your household in case of a fire, or checking that there is a key handy by all doors and windows can take less than 15 seconds and could mean the difference between life and death.”
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said people were more likely to panic during a house fire if they hadn’t prepared.
“A fire escape plan can reduce stress and avoid panic. It is imperative that residents know what a smoke alarm sounds like and that everyone in the family knows what to do if a fire occurs in the home,” Ms Carroll said.
“We are urging homeowners to be proactive.
“Plan to get out as quickly and safely as possible. Create a plan detailing all exit routes and, if possible, have two ways out of every room.
“Find an appropriate meeting place outside of the home where everyone can meet, such as the letterbox, which is away from the smoke and fire.
“Make sure all residents of the house practice the fire escape plan regularly, in the day and at night, with the lights off, standing and crawling. This will ensure everyone knows what to do and in the event of a life-threatening fire.”
Ms Carroll said Queenslanders could receive assistance in developing their fire escape plan and ensuring their home was fire safe by booking a free Safehome visit.
“Local firefighters conduct Safehome visits to assist residents with completing their fire escape plans and recognising and eliminating fire and safety hazards around the household,” Ms Carroll said.
“The message is simple. What we are asking residents to do is simple. Please play your part and keep yourselves and your loved ones safe this winter and year-round.”
To organise a Safehome visit, contact 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or visit www.fire.qld.gov.au.
To find out more about fire escape plans, visit www.qfes.qld.gov.au/fireescape. This website will also be further enhanced as part of the campaign.