Moving into your new accommodation can be one of the most exciting parts of studying overseas: having your own space to decorate, living with fellow students, and enjoying greater independence. If you’re like many international students, you might be living, studying or working in a high-rise building (that is, buildings four storeys or above).
Australia has some fairly strict fire safety rules for high-rises, but it also helps to know what to do in case of an emergency. To keep you and your fellow students safe, here are some important safety tips for living in a high-rise building.
Know your fire exits
In Australia, fire exits are clearly identifiable by illuminated green and white exit signs. High-rises also have fire stairs and firefighting equipment, such as fire hose reels and portable fire extinguishers, available for residents. Make sure you familiarise yourself with where these are located in your building and learn how to use them.
Never block fire escapes
The fire doors in your building should never be left open. You also cannot store items on the fire stairwell. Bulky items, such as bikes or storage boxes, are often left in fire exits, which blocks escape routes. Find alternative storage locations for bulky items, such as outside bike shelters or rentable storage lockers.
Develop a home escape plan
Whether you’re living alone or sharing an apartment with roommates, you should take some time to develop and practise an escape plan in case of emergencies. Organise a safe meeting place outside and away from the building that you can head to if there is a fire.
Stay barbeque safe
Enjoying a barbeque outside with friends is a big part of the Australian experience, and many high-rise buildings have outdoor balconies with heaters and barbeques to use throughout the year. Make sure these items are always a minimum of one metre away from all objects, and ensure they are turned off when not in use.
Prevent electrical fires
The powerpoints in Australia are likely to be different from what you’re used to at home, and voltages might be, too. Ensure that you understand Australia’s power system and that your electrical appliances will be safe to use. Also, make sure you don’t overload power points and power boards; additional power boards and even international adaptors are affordable and easy to find.
Call for help
If you ever feel that there is an issue with fire safety in your building, report it immediately. For example, fire safety doors and external apartment doors are designed to self-close every time. If you notice a problem with these doors, let building management know immediately.
In an emergency, call fire services on Triple Zero (000). You’ll find more high-rise fire safety tips on the Fire and Rescue NSW website.