Fire Safety in the home was the theme of the talk at our 60s Up meeting – very appropriate as we are in the depths of winter. Our speaker Kerry O’Keefe had the dual title of Fire Risk Management Officer and Specialist Fire Investigator, so was admirably qualified to talk to our members about this important subject. Kerry told us that he became a fire fighter not long after the best friend of his little four year old son had died in a house fire. The little boy had been playing with matches and set his room on fire. Not knowing what to do, he then hid under his bed while the house burned down around him. Kerry’s son said to him, “Dad, if you were a fireman you could have saved him”. What a sad story, but Kerry has been fighting fires ever since.
Kerry’s talk was full of common sense good advice. Such as having fire alarms in all bedrooms, not just the main one. And for those hard of hearing, consider an alarm that also comes with strobe lighting. And don’t waste your money buying those cheap $10 alarms either, a good quality one selling at $40 contains a long life photo electric battery which will last for 10 years. He talked to us about having an escape plan, and leaving the keys in deadbolts while we were at home. People have died while trying to find their keys and insert them in locks in the dead of night with toxic smoke swirling around.
Most fires happen in the kitchen, and the advice was never to leave a frying pan alone on the stove top. If your pan does catch fire, turn the stove off at the wall and smother it quickly with something like a bread board, oven tray, or tea towel – a fire needs oxygen to continue burning.
Overloaded plug boards are also dangerous – it it feels warm to the touch it is overloaded! And electric blankets are another area of concern. They are not made to be slept on while the power is on. How many of us have felt cold in the middle of the night and switched the blanket on? Yes, I was only one of many who admitted to that. Robin worked for the New Zealand Fire Service for some years in their Head Office, and related that most fire fighters would not allow their family members to have electric blankets – what does that tell you?
It was a very interesting and informative talk. Can I do without my electric blanket? No, but I can make sure that I switch it off before climbing into bed. (And don’t tell Robin – but I always rather like a man in uniform.)