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Fire safety in your home

6-minute read

Key facts

  • About half of all home fires start in the kitchen, and almost half of deaths from fire happen during winter.
  • It is essential to install smoke alarms throughout your home and test them regularly.
  • Make sure your family know multiple safe exits from every room in your home.
  • Make sure the chimney is clean and not blocked, if you have a fireplace.
  • First aid for burns includes cooling them with running water for at least 20 minutes.

Fire safety

About half of all fires in the home start in the kitchen, and almost half of all deaths from fire happen during winter.

It is essential to install smoke alarms throughout your home and test them every month. Change the batteries every year, perhaps on a memorable date such as a birthday.

Where possible, make sure you and your family know more than one safe way out of every room in your home. It’s a good idea to write down your escape plan in the event of a fire in the home and practise it regularly.

Make sure children know that if their clothes catch fire, they mustn’t run away. This only makes the fire burn hotter and faster. Instead, tell them to:

  • STOP immediately where they are.
  • DROP quickly to the ground and cover their face with their hands.
  • ROLL over and over to put out the flames.

Every state and territory fire authority has resources to help children understand what to do in the case of a fire, such as easy-to-remember advice such as "get down low and go, go, go!".

Here are a few tips to keep you and your home fire safe:

  • Keep curtains, tablecloths and bedding away from portable heaters.
  • Keep wet clothes at least 1m from heaters or fireplaces, and never place clothes or towels on your heater.
  • Clean the lint filter every time you use a clothes dryer, as lint that has built up can catch fire.
  • Never use your gas oven or stove as a room heater.
  • Always keep children away from open heat sources such as fireplaces and gas stoves and remember that even clothing with a ‘low fire danger’ label can still catch fire.

Also make sure to never leave appliances on or flames burning:

  • Use just 1 appliance per power point and switch them off when you’re not using them. Heaters consume a lot of power and may overload the supply, which can cause a fire.
  • Never leave burning candles or any open flame unattended.
  • Store matches and lighters in a safe place, out of reach of young children.


If you have a fireplace in your home, make sure the chimney is clean and not blocked. Always place a screen in front of a fireplace when it’s being used.

Never burn rubbish such as plastics or foam or wood that is painted or treated with chemicals such as with copper chrome arsenate (CCA) or creosote (such as railway sleepers). These can release toxic (poisonous) smoke.

First aid for burns

Burns can be caused by heat, cold, electricity, chemicals, gases, friction and radiation (including sunlight). The aim of first aid for burns is to stop the burning process, cool the burn (for pain relief) and cover the burn.

Immediate first aid steps

  • Cool the burn with running water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Remove tight clothing and objects such as rings, watches or jewellery if they are not stuck to the skin.
  • Cover the burnt area with a light, loose, nonstick dressing. Use clean, dry, non-fluffy material such as plastic cling film.
  • If possible, elevate the burnt limb to minimise swelling.
  • Keep the person covered to prevent them from getting cold.
  • Call for help.

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance or go straight to your nearest emergency department if:

  • the burn is deep, even if the person doesn’t complain of pain
  • the burn is bigger than a 20 cent piece
  • the burn affects the airway, face, hands or genitals
  • there are patches of brown, black, white or the skin looks leathery
  • the burn was caused by chemicals or electricity
  • the patient is having trouble breathing

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Resources and support

For more information on first aid for burns you can read the burns and scalds fact sheet from St John Ambulance Australia.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2024

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