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Home safety project wins national award

04.09.2008 FREE home delivery is an advantage for any family, but especially so when the product being delivered saves lives. Residents of Central Taranaki have welcomed into their living rooms staff from a home safety awareness initiative, who provide and install smoke alarms free of charge, along with other home safety information.

The Stratford TET Home Safety Project has been highly commended at this year's New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Awards in recognition of this innovative approach. The awards were held in Wellington Monday night, September 1, and were supported by ACC as part of its Safety New Zealand Week.

The Stratford TET Home Safety Project was entered in the category for 'Emerging community safety and/or injury prevention initiative or programme'. This category acknowledges the involvement of a wide variety of community safety agencies in the running of one collective project. Central Taranaki Victim Support Group is the lead agency for the project that ran over an eight-month period this year (January-August 2008). Behind the firemen, the group's volunteers are often first on the scene helping families to deal with the aftermath of a house fire. It's so devastating, said project chairwoman Pauline James.

Fire affects the whole family down to the pets. Afterwards volunteers would follow up with a home visit and free smoke alarms but it always felt like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

With this project, Victim Support got to be proactive rather than reactive. They liked the idea of getting there first, before there'd been a fire.

With this project, as well as the smoke alarms, each household received a targeted information pack with a practical range of information to inform and assist families to establish safety procedures in and around their homes. It contained ACC's over-65 and under-five safety material, details about neighbourhood support programmes and information on the It's Not OK domestic violence campaign. We also included a wallet-sized card with the region's key emergency numbers.

Pauline said there has been a great response from the public to the direct nature of the project.

Having someone sitting in your living room with you as you go through a family fire plan makes a huge difference. The kids are there too and they get to ask questions and engage with the information.

We had a call from one family to thank us especially for the visit. One evening the parents were called out of the house to deal with something on the farm.

Eggs were left boiling on the stove for dinner, when they came back the house was filled with smoke. But everyone knew what to do, even the little boy. They had a family plan in place and it worked.

The project is run in partnership with New Zealand Fire Service, Work and Income, the Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET), ACC, Peak Health Taranaki, Stratford District Council and Housing NZ.

For more on Safety NZ Week and the New Zealand Community Safety and Injury Prevention Awards, please go to:

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