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1318.3 - Qld Stats, Jun 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2008   
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Image: Household preparedness for emergencies, Queensland–October 2007 HOUSEHOLD PREPAREDNESS FOR EMERGENCIES, QUEENSLAND–OCTOBER 2007

Presence of safety precautions
Access to emergency phone numbers
Emergency plans
Recent emergencies
Further information


This article presents Queensland results from the Household Preparedness for Emergencies survey which was conducted in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory during October 2007. The survey examined the steps households had taken in preparing for emergencies. These steps included safety precautions such as installing smoke alarms, ensuring emergency phone numbers were accessible, and having an emergency plan. Where households had experienced a recent emergency (in the last 2 years) the survey investigated how they responded during the emergency and if any changes were made to ensure better preparedness in the future.

For more detailed definitions of terms and concepts used in this article please refer to the Glossary in Household Preparedness for Emergencies: NSW, Vic, Qld and ACT, Oct 2007 (cat. no. 4818.0.55.001).


In October 2007, the most common safety precaution that Queensland households had taken was to have smoke alarms or detectors installed in their homes. Of the 1.6 million households in Queensland, 94% had a smoke alarm installed. State legislation and building codes regarding smoke alarms are probably the main influences on the high proportion of households with smoke alarms and detectors. In Queensland it is (and was at the time of the survey) mandatory for all homes, new and old to have smoke alarms installed. Of all households with smoke alarms or detectors, 84% had manually tested these devices in the last 12 months.

Electrical safety switches or circuit breakers were the second most common safety precaution. These were present in 90% of homes in Queensland. As with smoke alarms, the proportion of dwellings with safety switches was affected by legislation and building codes. In Queensland all homes built since 1992 must have safety switches installed, whilst all properties which have changed ownership or are leased to tenants require safety switches to be installed within 3 months and 6 months respectively.

Aside from these legislated safety precautions, 63% of the households had a portable first aid kit and around one-third (35%) had a household member with a current first aid qualification.

The two least implemented precautions were fire blankets (19%) and a written or rehearsed emergency plan (20%). An emergency plan is a scheme of assigned responsibilities, actions and procedures required in the event of an emergency.

There was no significant difference between the Balance of State and Brisbane in most implemented non-legislated safety precautions. The exception was for the precaution of written or rehearsed emergency plans, where 22% of the Balance of State households had such an emergency plan compared with 17% of Brisbane households.

PRESENCE OF SELECTED SAFETY PRECAUTIONS, By area of usual residence, Queensland–October 2007

Balance of State

Smoke alarms/detectors
Tested smoke alarms/detectors(a)
Fire blankets
Fire extinguishers
Electrical safety switches or circuit breakers
Written or rehearsed emergency plan(b)
Portable first aid kit
First aid qualification(c)
Total households(d)

(a) Manually tested within the last 12 months.
(b) Rehearsed within the last 12 months. Emergency plan is for non-medical emergencies only.
(c) First aid qualification either obtained or renewed by a household member during the last 3 years. Also included if a household member is a doctor or nurse.
(d) Components do not add to total as more than one type of safety precaution could be present.
Source: Household Preparedness for Emergencies: NSW, Vic, Qld and ACT, Oct 2007 (cat. no. 4818.0.55.001).

Couple with children households were more likely than other household types to have a member with a current first aid qualification (53%) and a portable first aid kit (74%). In contrast, lone person households were least likely to have a current first aid qualification (16%) and a portable first aid kit (48%).

Home ownership increased the likelihood of having the safety precautions to put out house fires, compared to homes that were rented. In particular, households who owned or were paying off their home were approximately twice as likely as households who rented, to have fire blankets (22% compared with 10%) and fire extinguishers (37% compared with 20%).

Over two thirds (68%) of households who owned or were paying off their home possessed a portable first aid kit in comparison with just over half (51%) of households who rented.

Households who owned or were paying off their home (93%) were also more likely to have an electrical safety switch or circuit breaker installed than households who rented (81%).


Household members' access to the appropriate emergency phone numbers can be a critical factor affecting the ability of emergency services to respond to emergencies. Over one third (39%) of all Queensland households did not keep emergency phone numbers in a location for ease of use. An easily accessible location includes only emergency phone numbers that are displayed/stored separately and are easily accessible in an emergency. This excludes looking up emergency numbers in the White or Yellow pages phone books.

The most common locations for emergency phone numbers was either on the fridge (24%) or by the phone (23%), followed by programmed into the phone (7.9%).


An indicator of preparedness for emergencies is whether households have an emergency plan.

A perceived risk of flooding or bushfire did not significantly increase the likelihood of households having an emergency plan. Under half (41%) of the 270,400 households with a perceived risk of bushfire had a plan compared with 37% of households without a perceived risk of bushfire. Of the 219,500 Queensland households with a perceived risk of flooding, 42% had an emergency plan compared with 37% of households without a perceived risk of flooding.

Approximately one-fifth (18%) of all households had at least one household member who would have difficulties evacuating without help in an emergency. This, however, did not increase the likelihood of those households having an emergency plan. In Queensland, 37% of households with a member who would have difficulties evacuating had an emergency plan compared with 38% of households without a member who would need help.

Households with one or more members who volunteered in the emergency services were more likely to have an emergency plan (54%) than households with no volunteer members (37%). This was most evident in the Balance of Queensland where 57% of households with at least one member who volunteered in the emergency services had an emergency plan, compared to 39% of households who did not have a volunteer.

An emergency is an actual or imminent occurrence which: endangers, or threatens to endanger, the safety or health of persons or animals; and/or destroys or damages, or threatens to destroy or damage property; and/or requires a significant and coordinated response. The survey excluded emergencies of a purely medical nature and crimes which do not threaten the physical dwelling or surroundings.

In the two years prior to October 2007, 9.7% of Queensland households (or 153,800 households) had experienced an emergency.

The most common type of emergency experienced in Queensland was 'storm, cyclone, wind or hail', experienced by 5.8% of households (or 92,700 households), followed by house fire (2.2% or 34,900 households) and flood and bushfires (0.7% or 11,800 and 10,900 households respectively).

MOST RECENT EMERGENCY(a), Queensland–October 2007
Graph: Most recent emergency(a), Queensland–October 2007

Of the households who reported experiencing a recent emergency, 15% contacted emergency services.

Households who had experienced bushfires (75%) were most likely to contact emergency services followed by households experiencing 'Other emergencies (46%). Around 10% of households experiencing house fires, 'storm, cyclone, wind or hail' and floods contacted emergency services.

The most commonly contacted emergency services were the Fire Service (8.0%) and the State Emergency Service (6.6%).

Around half (53%) of households who had experienced emergencies implemented changes for better preparedness. Changes included installing and regularly testing smoke alarms, implementing an emergency plan and putting emergency phone numbers in an easily accessible place.


Further information on this topic can be found in Household Preparedness for Emergencies: NSW, Vic, Qld and ACT, Oct 2007 (cat. no. 4818.0.55.001).

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