Home Safety

Home Safety

Winter health hazards at home


The cooler months means we will probably be spending more time in the home than anywhere else. It is also a time of seasonal hazards. As we unpack our hot water bottles and electric blankets please keep these reminders for a safer winter.

Fire safetydownload (1)

About half of all fires in the home start in the kitchen, and more than 40% of all deaths from fire happen during winter. Here are a few tips to keep you and your home fire safe:

  1. Have a written home fire escape plan and practice it regularly.
  2. Install smoke alarms throughout your home and test them monthly. Change the batteries every year.
  3. Keep curtains, tablecloths, clothes and bedding away from portable heaters and fireplaces.
  4. Clean the lint filter every time you use a clothes dryer.
  5. 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 on fire.

Fireplaces & Heatersdownload (2)

If you have a fireplace in your home then make sure the chimney is clean and not blocked. Always place a screen in front of a fireplace when it’s being used, and never burn rubbish such as plastics or foam as these create toxins.

  1. Store matches and lighters in a safe place out of reach of children.
  2. Check that each heater is safe to use every winter.
  3. Don’t leave portable heaters in places where people or pets could knock them over.
  4. Gas heaters produce heat when they burn gas fuel. This also produces air pollutants and water vapour. If your gas heater doesn’t have a flue, service it regularly and make sure the room is well ventilated.
  5. Use just one 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.
  6. Never use a gas heater designed for outdoor use inside your home.

Electric blanketsdownload (2)

Check your electric blanket is in good condition and hasn’t been recalled by checking the Recalls Australia website. About 400,000 potentially faulty electric blankets were recalled in 2012. Faulty electric blankets can overheat, cause an electric shock, spark and potentially cause a fire.

You should always roll your blanket up to store it because folding it can damage element wires inside the blanket. When you take it out of storage and use it for the first time, lay it flat on the bed and check for hot spots as it heats up.

Hot water bottlesdownload (3)

Use warm, but not boiling, water to fill your hot water bottle and examine it for leaks before you use it. Replace it as soon as it starts to look cracked or worn or every two years. Remember – the rubber can perish from the inside so you may not be able to see if it’s worn out.

unnamed copy

Learning first aid can help you to

identify potential hazards and

be prepared to act if an accident where to occur. 

Book into one of our public courses here.


information source: www.healthdirect.gov.au

Prepare Your Emergency Go Bag

images (4)What do you grab in an evacuation situation, when you’re panicked, you have to leave in a hurry and you’re facing the possibility that your home and everything you own will be destroyed?

Not the things you really need, people can say from experience. Panic stations is not a time to be thinking about packing a go bag. The following is a list of suggested items to pack.

Suggested Content List:

  • Comfortable clothing – Layers, sealed in weather proof bag
  • A current family photograph including pets – to use for identification.
  • Water for drinking and sanitation
  • Non-perishable food such as energy bars, tinned tuna etc.
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Proof of identification and ownership of pets
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • AM/FM radio and extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • A method of water purification.
  • Can opener for food & utensils for eating
  • Extra toothbrush and toothpaste, toiletries
  • Lighter or flint
  • Mobile phone with chargers
  • Important documents (see tips below)
  • First aid kit & manual
  • List of Contact Numbers
  • Local maps and compass
  • Money small denominations rather than large notes.
  • Unique family needs such as prescription medications, pet supplies, infant supplies, eyeglasses


images (2)Documents Tip

Prepare certified copies of important documents and having them packed safely in a sealed waterproof sleeve. Alternately you can get electronic copies of these documents and your family pictures and store them on a USB. Store correctly in sealed bag to protect. Remember you can only access a USB with a computer or device and power.

Make copies of important paperwork such as:
– drivers license, medicare card, marriage certificates, birth certificates, insurances, property deeds, banking details, current medications & treatments, proof of residence, insurance policies, and tax records.


Information sources: nrdc.org, wikihow, nyc.gov

Holiday safety – alcohol, driving and empty homes

Leaving Home for the holidays

  • house-insurance-419058_640Ensure the house is securely locked, including windows usually left open
  • Cancel newspapers and redirect your mail or have it collected by a friend
  • Put pets into a boarding kennel or have friends visit them often
  • Tell neighbours or friends who can check on the house, you are away and whom will be at the house legitimately – e.g. gardeners, pet minders
  • Secure your garage or, if unable – move items such as bikes inside the house
  • Consider security devices, including light timers etc.
  • Do not leave cash in the house and locate jewellery in a safe place
  • Ensure your lawn is cut, the property tidy and stop all deliveries
  • Avoid leaving the answering machine on and turn the phone volume down

Young people and alcohol

Young people and particularly those under the age of 18 are vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol.cocktail-594173__180

  • In Australia alcohol is a key factor in the three leading causes of death among adolescents; unintentional injury, homicide and suicide.
  • Over one in five (22%) of all hospitalisations of young people aged 15-24 years old are alcohol related.
  • Of all those hospitalised, 30% of young men and 23% of young women are hospitalised because of an alcohol related assault.

As well as the serious and obvious health consequences of underage drinking, alcohol places the drinker and those around them at considerable risk of harm. Alcohol use, particularly excessive use can increase young people’s risk of becoming a victim and / or an offender of alcohol related crime, often violent crime such as sexual assault, physical assault, robbery, driving accidents, violence and antisocial behaviour offences.

Driving distractions and crash risk

Distractions that divert attention from driving increase your risk of crashing.

automobile-160339__180Recent research suggests that at least 14 per cent of all crashes involve the driver being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle. As many as one in ten fatalities have been directly attributed to driver distraction. Yet even though surveys have indicated that 98 per cent of people believe that using a mobile phone while driving, for example, is very dangerous, 28 per cent of people admit to doing it themselves.

Typically, the two biggest distractions inside the vehicle are other passengers and adjusting the sound system. Research has also shown that drivers using mobile phones and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) while driving are also much more likely to be involved in crashes. Text entry into a GPS unit while driving can be extremely dangerous. Sending and receiving text messages on a mobile phone while driving is also extremely dangerous, and is also illegal.

9 Tips for spring allergies

 images (45)Whilst many of us are enjoying the spring blooms and the sweet smell of flower perfume in the air, there are those that are cringing and reaching for the antihistamines.

Here are some tips to make this season a little more enjoyable..


Tip 1: Check the pollen countdownload (17)

Pollen is invisible to the naked eye. But you don’t need to see it to feel its effects! Once pollen reaches your nose and throat, it can trigger an allergic reaction if you are the sensitive type. Being aware of the pollen count in your area means you can plan your outdoor activities around high count days where possible.

It’s easy enough to check the pollen count in your locale, for example this website:

Australia Pollen Count


Tip 2: Stay Indoors When Pollen Counts Are High

When pollen counts are high, shut the windows and use the air conditioner if it is hot.

Pollens are often heaviest when the weather is nicest, avoid sleeping with the windows open.


Tip 3: Pollination Times

It’s best to avoid the outdoors during high pollen counts, but that’s not always practical.

Most plants pollinate from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., so if you are outside at these times, for example going for a jog, you pick up the pollen on your hair, face, and clothes. It is best to avoid this time period.


Tip 4: Windy days

Windy days can be worse than calm days as windy days stir the pollen around. Try to arrange indoor activities on windy days.


images (47)Tip 5: Don’t be too quick to blame the dog

If a dog is outdoors, he’s a pollen-carrier, too. Often people blame the dog for an allergy, and it might actually be the pollen on the pet. If you bring your dog inside, rinse him off or brush him before coming into the house.


Tip 6: Wear a mask in the garden

If you are the one who has to do the yard work, wearing a mask is a good idea. They don’t look fashionable, but It’s not a social occasion.


Tip 7: Medicate before you leave the house

Take your allergy medicines before you go outside. People often wait until they are miserable and then take it. 


Tip 8: Don’t bring it inside with you

As soon as you arrive home, even if you’ve just been in the backyard, change your clothes and take a shower to rid your body of as much pollen as possible. Don’t forget your hair, especially if it is long.


Tip 9: Don’t overuse nasal sprays

Beware of overusing decongestant nasal sprays. Using decongestant sprays for more than three days in a row can lead to a “rebound” effect. Your allergy symptoms may become worse than before you started the medicine.



Asthma and the weather

Many of our Medenews readers are asthma sufferers or have family members that are effected by asthma. People are commonly aware of such triggers as pollens and exercise, but did you know that the weather can also act as a trigger for asthma attacks?

images (42)The effect of weather on asthma symptoms isn’t fully understood, but clearly there is a link. Numerous studies have shown a variety of connections, such as increases in asthma-related emergency department visits when certain weather conditions are present. Some people find that their asthma symptoms get worse at specific times of year. For others, a severe storm or sudden weather change may trigger an attack.

Exposure to cold, dry air is a common asthma trigger and can quickly cause severe symptoms. People with exercise-induced asthma who participate in winter sports are especially susceptible. Dry, windy weather can stir up pollen and mold in the air, leading to problems for some people.

Hot, humid air also can trigger asthma symptoms, and wet weather encourages the growth of mold spores, another asthma trigger.

Studies have shown that thunderstorms can trigger asthma attacks. One study showed that during thunderstorms, the daily number of emergency department visits for asthma increased by 15%.

Make sure you are ready and able to assist in an asthma attack. Book your asthma training in one of our popular public training venues, or organise your own group training with friends and family.

Click here to see our public courses available.

If you would like to arrange group training please click here.

source: kidshealth.org

Is it hot in here?

What should a persons temperature be normally?

Fever is a rise in body temperature above the normal temperature, usually caused by infection. Normal body temperature is around 37°C (give or take a degree, depending on individual differences). There may also be minor fluctuations over the course of the day and night. Contrary to popular belief, the severity of fever isn’t necessarily related to the seriousness of the illness – for example, life-threatening meningitis might only cause a small temperature rise.


52420 - Ear Thermometer - 150x150What temperature is considered a fever?

The fever triggered by a viral or bacterial infection is caused by chemicals produced by the immune system, which reset the body’s thermostat to a higher level. Most cases of mild fever resolve by themselves within a couple of days. A mild fever (up to 39°C) can actually help the immune system to get rid of an infection. In children between the ages of six months and six years, fever can trigger convulsions. A fever of 42.4°C or higher, particularly in the elderly, can permanently damage the brain.

Symptoms of fever 

The symptoms of fever can include:

  • Feeling unwell
  • Feeling hot and sweaty
  • Shivering
  • Chattering teeth
  • Flushed face.


Infection is usually the cause of fever

The cause of fever is usually an infection of some kind. This could include:

  • Viruses – such as colds or upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Bacteria – such as tonsillitis, pneumonia or urinary tract infections.
  • Some chronic illnesses – such as rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis that can cause fevers that last longer than two weeks.
  • Some tropical diseases – such as malaria, which can cause bouts of recurring fever or typhoid fever.
  • Heat stroke – which includes fever (without sweating) as one of its symptoms.
  • Drugs – some people may be susceptible to fever as a side effect of particular drugs.
  • Malignant tumours.
When to see your doctor for fever symptoms
You should always consult with your doctor in the following cases:

  • You are still feverish after three days, despite home treatment.
  • Your temperature is over 40°C.
  • You are shivering and shaking involuntarily, or your teeth are chattering.
  • You are hot, but not sweating.
  • You seem to be getting sicker as time goes by.
  • You have unusual symptoms such as hallucinations, vomiting, neck stiffness, skin rash, rapid heart rate, chills or muscle spasms.
  • You feel confused and drowsy.
  • You have a severe headache that doesn’t respond to painkillers.
  • You have recently travelled overseas.

When to seek immediate urgent medical attention

  • You should seek immediate medical attention if you or someone else has the following symptoms:
    • Fever with headache and a stiff neck
    • Rash that does not blanche to skin pressure (indicates bleeding into the skin) This can indicate a life threatening illness

download (11)Fever in children

On average, a child has up to 10 infections per year. Body temperature isn’t a reliable indicator of illness for babies and young children – a child may have a mild temperature according to the thermometer (slightly over 37°C), but seem happy and healthy. Trust your own instincts, but seek medical help if your child:

  • Is aged six months or less
  • Has a rash
  • Has a fever of 40°C or more
  • Is still feverish after a day or so, despite four-hourly doses of baby paracetamol
  • Vomits or has persistent diarrhoea
  • Refuses food or drink
  • Cries inconsolably
  • Seems listless, floppy or just looks ill
  • Convulses or twitches
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Is in pain
  • If you feel at all worried or concerned at any stage, consult with your doctor.


Information sourced from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/

Are Cold Symptoms Making You Feel Miserable?

Here are 4 helpful tips you can use right now to feel better.

Tip 1: Listen to your body

Stay warm and rested. Staying warm and resting when you first come down with a cold or the flu helps your body direct its energy toward the immune battle. This battle taxes the body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket to stay warm if necessary.

Tip 2: Use steam to ease nasal congestion

Inhale steam to ease your congestion and drippy nose. A humidifier, moisture from a hot shower with the door closed and saline nasal spray are helpful to ease congestion.


Can Your Fire Alarm Save Your Life?

If you have a working smoke alarm you are reducing the fire risk to yourself and your family.

Legislation requires all residents must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and campervans or any other residential building where people sleep.

Smoke alarms are life-saving devices that provide benefits for occupants. They detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant would and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property. Smoke alarms are designed to detect fire smoke and emit a loud and distinctive sound to alert occupants of potential danger.


5 Autumn Safety Tips

5 Autumn Safety Tips

Autumn often requires us to make changes in our lifestyle or routine due to weather, school health and upcoming holidays. Here are 5 tips to help you stay healthy and safe.

Tip 1: Be prepared for cold weather

Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Know how to prevent health problems and what to do if a cold-weather emergency arises. Remember that using heaters and fireplaces can increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.


What Can I Do if Someone Has Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction a person can have and can be life threatening. It can be caused by medication, food, bites/stings and less commonly exercise. The Most common triggers are:

  • Medication
    • Over the counter medication e.g. aspirin
    • Prescription medication
    • Herbal medicine
  • Venom from insect bites & stings
    • Bees
    • Wasps
    • Ants
  • Food –  Some common Food Allergens are:
    • Peanuts & tree nuts
    • Milk
    • Eggs
    • Wheat
    • Soy
    • Sesame
    • Fish & crustaceans e.g. prawns

Even a minuscule amount of food can cause a severe anaphylaxis reaction in susceptible individuals.