Study finds people phone family before fire brigade

Researchers want to speak to Cantabrians who have been in accidental house fires as part of a...
Researchers want to speak to Cantabrians who have been in accidental house fires as part of a study into how people act during these emergencies. Photo: Supplied
Some people tend to try and extinguish house fires themselves and phone family members before 111 when a blaze starts.

These are two of the early findings of a University of Otago study into people’s behaviour in response to accidental house fires in New Zealand, which is running until October.

Dr Amy Richardson from the injury prevention research unit is part of a team running the study and wants Cantabrians who have been in accidental house fires to take part.

Dr Richardson said so far, five people from other parts of New Zealand have been interviewed but the aim is to talk to more than 20 before the study ends.

Said Dr Richardson: “It’s very preliminary, but what we have found is that people, at least from the people I’ve talked to so far, they do tend to attempt to put the fire out themselves, which is a little bit concerning for us.

“Certainly, not everyone is calling Fire and Emergency [New Zealand] and quite often, in the first instance, they tend to call family members,” she said.

Dr Richardson said the main cause of accidental house fires is unattended cooking.

However, she said those spoken to so far were in fires caused by different things, including a salt lamp being left on during the day and a deodorant can exploding because it was left too close to candles.

Dr Richardson said her team wants to speak Cantabrians who have been injured in accidental house fires and those who have escaped unscathed to compare what actions contributed to these different outcomes.

Said Dr Richardson: “What we’re hoping and what Fire and Emergency [New Zealand] is hoping is that we can really uncover the reasons people act the way that they do so that their behaviours can be targeted in fire prevention campaigns.”

•If you have been in an accidental house fire and want to take part in this study, email Dr Richardson, or phone 021 279 0734.



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