Staying safe during a lockdown: a guide to safety at home

As Queensland continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the potential to be put into lockdown at short notice remains a real concern. While we may typically associate our homes with safety and security, around 44% of injuries occur in the home environment.

As we face the potential of spending more time at home, it is important that we best prepare ourselves to stay safe during a lockdown.

Keep the necessities

Always aim to keep medical necessities available at your home, especially during a lockdown. While every home is obviously unique, some common essentials include:

  • First aid kid with band-aids, bandages, gauze, anti-bacterial wipes, pain relief, etc.
  • Puffers or inhalers
  • Emergency details for doctors, hospitals, poisonous bites and other contacts.

While it is important to have these items available, it is also equally as important to remember to not panic-buy supplies. Queenslanders are still able to purchase necessities during a lockdown, as all supermarkets and chemists remain open.

Lastly, while keeping a first aid kit at home is essential for dealing with minor injuries, always be sure to immediately call 000 in an emergency.

Maintain home fire safety

Fires are a part of life in Queensland, especially during bushfire season. However, you should remain vigilant about home fire safety throughout the year.

The first thing to note is that house fires can be caused by anything from faulty electrical appliances, open fires and heaters to unattended cooking instruments. Therefore, we recommend checking the electrical appliances in your home for any wear and tear or frayed cords.

Naturally, open fireplaces or heaters during winter can also pose a legitimate fire thread, especially if you have young children. Therefore, make sure your children are educated about fire safety in the home and are not left unsupervised near any open flames.

Finally, make sure your smoke alarm is in working order by testing the alarm regularly and making sure the battery is changed at least once a year. On top of this, consider investing in a small fire extinguisher or a fire blanket for your home.

For more information on protecting your home, head to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website.

Be cautious of electrical hazards

While electricity is obviously central to the modern home, it also poses a risk to you and your family. Moreover, electrical injuries sustained in the home are often the result of poor installation, incorrect operation or improper maintenance.

Here are a few things you can do around the home to keep your family safe:

  • Make sure all appliance and extension cords are in good condition and kept away from water.
  • Childproof your power outlets.
  • Avoid overloading power outlets.
  • Watch out for overhead and underground powerlines when working on your property.

As always, be sure to call 000 in the event of an electrical shock. Visit the State Government’s page on electrical safety at home for more information.

Food safety

Food safety is an important issue for all Queenslanders yet may be overlooked at times. Food poisoning is generally the result of preparing, cooking or storing food incorrectly.

To reduce the risk of making yourself or your family ill here are a few simple tips.

Preparing food safely begins with washing your hands. Make sure you thoroughly clean your hands before you begin preparing food, especially after coughing, sneezing or using the toilet. In addition, make sure you always use clean equipment, knives, forks and plates to ensure your food does not become contaminated.

When reheating leftovers, be sure to heat until they are steaming hot. Moreover, aim to eat any leftovers within 2 days of refrigerating.

Make sure all hot food is kept at 60ºC or above until served. After your meal, make sure any leftovers are only refrigerated once they have stopped steaming. According to Queensland Health, food should be cooled from 60ºC to 21ºC within two hours and from 21ºC to 5ºC within a further four hours.

Cold food on the other hand, should be stored at 5ºC or below. If you are defrosting any frozen foods, be sure to do it in the fridge or microwave and not on the kitchen bench. Do not refreeze food after you have thawed it.

Pay attention to your mental health

While physical distancing is an important part of our response to COVID-19, it does have the potential to seriously affect your mental wellbeing. When we can’t see our family, friends and loved ones as normal, existing feelings of anxiety, worry or stress may be exacerbated.

If you recognise that your mental health is being affected by social distancing or the pandemic, there are several resources at your disposal. The Queensland Mental Health Commission has compiled a list of mental health resources that can assist you when you are struggling.

Avoid misinformation

As we work through these exceptional times, it’s important we only engage with reliable information and updates. As social media makes accessing information easier than ever, the spread of misinformation and rumour only increases.

Ensure that you only access information from trusted sources, like the Queensland Government’s COVID website.

The final thing to remember is that the pandemic will eventually be over. While we find ourselves in a bizarre moment in history, physically separated from those close to us, Queenslanders are a resilient bunch. Together, we will get through it.


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