Your home should be a sanctuary – a place where every member of the family feels safe. However, making this happen requires knowledge of how to prevent disasters, as well as safely dealing with them when they happen.

In this article, we explore the current state of mind of parents, as well as simple tips on how to keep your loved ones safe.

Guest post by freelance writer, Gwen Mackey

Fire safety

Many things can cause house fires – cooking accidents, cigarettes, electrical faults, candles, incense, and even children playing with matches or lighters. When a fire breaks out, it can be pretty swift. And the truth is, time is your greatest resource – so it’s essential to give your family as much of it as possible. This comes down to preparation and best practices.

So, where do you start? First and foremost, installing a working fire alarm is your first line of defence. A survey by Real Insurance found that 67.4% of Australians believed it was imperative to install fire alarms in the home, with a further 89.8% regularly using them. In addition to fire alarms, you should also:

  • Have an escape plan; make sure it’s written down and practiced regularly with the whole family
  • Never leave open flames such as oil burners, candles and gas stoves unattended
  • Never smoke cigarettes in bed and take extra care if drinking while smoking
  • Take extra care in winter when the family is using heaters, electric blankets and fireplaces
  • Switch off appliances when not in use and don’t overload power points
  • Keep lighters and matches away from the children – educate them that they are not tools and should only be used by adults
  • Take extra care with any chemicals and fuels
  • Regularly check that your BBQ is in safe working order
  • Keep your backyard clear of leaves and litter if you live in a bushfire prone area

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Water safety

Sadly, many children each year drown in and around the home. And the reality is – it doesn’t always happen in pools. A young child can drown in:

  • A bucket of water
  • A creek or dam if you’re living on a farm
  • Fishponds or water fountains
  • Ordinary baths and kitchen sinks

With so many everyday risks to consider, 100% supervision is vital. But just as critical is knowing how to deal with emergencies. 54.8% of Australians believe it is crucial to learn first aid or child resuscitation, while 30% believe it is very important.

Here are some extra tips to keeping your children safe in and around water:

  • If you have pool, you must legally have a pool fence and self-locking gate
  • Set rules for the pool – no running, no swimming unless adults are home, no jumping onto others, always wear sunscreen, only swim if the pool is clean
  • Keep spas covered and locked when they are not in use
  • Always supervise young children under five in baths – especially babies
  • Always empty paddling pools once children have
  • Keep the lid closed on the washing machine and make sure kitchen sink plugs are out of reach

Another issue to consider is domestic wastewater overflow. Essentially, this is when your blackwater (water that comes from the toilet and is contaminated) or greywater (from bathrooms, kitchens and laundries) overflows onto your property or through the home. If you come into contact with wastewater, you can potentially get:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis
  • Viral infections such as hepatitis
  • Infections of the skin or eyes.

CCTV in homes

According to recent statistics, 38% of Australian parents believe installing CCTV at home is somewhat important, while only 17.7% consider it extremely important. So the question is – is it worth buying a system?

The cost of an alarm system is nothing compared to getting robbed. While the initial instalment might not be cheap (costing anywhere up to $300 to install equipment and monthly fees of around $30 for back-to-base monitoring), the average cost of burglary in Australia is $2,400. The fact is, you could be saving yourself hundreds of dollars if you install a system and prevent a burglary. To give you more of an overview of the benefits, here’s how an alarm system can work in your favour:

  • You’re alerted whenever someone enters your home without the passcode
  • Often, the alarm sound frightens the burglars away
  • If there is an intruder the police may be dispatched
  • You can save money on your contents insurance premiums

Protect what matters most

It’s safe to say that most of us would do anything to protect those we love. There are many dangers in and around the home, but if you know what to look for and how to deal with emergencies as they happen – your home will continue to be the sanctuary you’ve created.

Gwen Mackey
Gwen Mackey
Freelance Writer | [email protected]

Gwen Mackey is a freelance writer who specialises in learning development, technology and family dynamics. As a full-time mother of four children, Gwen is passionate about using her knowledge to guide parents through an often turbulent but always rewarding period.