Something strange arrived on our door step last week, it wasn't the norm child related things and it sure as hell wasn't a cute wee pamper pack that I sometimes get when a company feels sorry for me after I've whinged about how feral my kids are. It was a small jar filled with ash, but not just ash like clean your chimney its winter ash this was ash from a real house fire.
I had been contacted by the New Zealand Fire Service to see if I would help spread the word about smoke alarms, obvs I said yes because smoke alarms are such a no brainer to me and something I have made sure was a permanent fixture in every house we have lived in. So if me sharing a picture and the odd mind blowing statistic would possibly get one person to go and check their smoke alarms well I was all for it, the day I got the email about this parcel I had checked our smoke alarms which was kind of weird right? I had woken in the night to this super annoying beeping and thought the house alarm was only seconds from going off so leapt up only to find it wasn't the house alarm but the smoke alarm, we have six in our three bedroom house and one was beeping like a mofo because it needed its batteries changed.
Back to the ashes they came from a house fire in Mckinstry Ave, Mangere where a family of nine lived. But on 12th May their house was destroyed by one of around 3,200 house fires around the country every year, I'm super stoked to say this story has a happy ending as the Paala's house had working smoke alarms and when the alarm sounded Cathlyn was able to get herself and her there nieces to safety before the house was totally engulfed and destroyed by flames.
"Its what they say, smoke alarms save lives", Miss Paala said.
The New Zealand Fire Service says people don't often realise the true potential of house fires and how devastating they can be. Here are a few things you may not have realised:
- There are 3,200 house fires every year
- 80% of the house fires the New Zealand Fire Service attend have no working smoke alarms
- People lose their sense of smell when sleeping, making them vulnerable to dying as a result of toxic smoke inhalation long before flames can even get to them
- Fires are extremely quiet in their early stages and only begin to make any noise once it is well established
- 19 people have died in house fires since July 2015 Flames can become as high as the ceiling within two minutes
- Many people have smoke alarms, but don't maintain them or check them regularly enough.
It will only take two minute to check the smoke alarms in your home and I really encourage you to do so, here are some smoke alarm tips:
- Regularly check your smoke alarms and their batteries
- Have and alarm in every bedroom and main living area on every level of a house
- Have an escape plan in the event of a fire, including a safe place to meet
- Once out don't go back in, even to call 111
- Do that from a cellphone or a neighbour's
- If you leave the kitchen, turn elements off
- Check on elderly relatives, friends or neighbours and make sure they have working alarms.
I personally found it so much more important to be vigilant with smoke alarms after I had children, I immediately put a sock alarm in Rocky's room when he was a baby and also added two more even though we had a tiny house I just couldn't even bare to think that if something happened there may have been something I could have done to prevent it. Please go and check your alarms and if you don't have any make the effort to get some they are almost sold everywhere from The Supermarket to The Warehouse to Mitre 10, its not worth the risk.