You're at greatest danger when you lay asleep in your bed as smoke seeps into the room and flames rage.
With winter upon us, and everyone spending more time rugged up at home – it's important to stay fire safe.
The Weekend Sun spoke to Fire Emergency New Zealand's senior policy and capability specialist for Bay of Plenty, Luke Burgess on reducing house fire risk this winter.
Luke says the leading cause for house fires is unattended cooking.
'That is the most common one and keeping an eye on your cooking – as in don't leave the kitchen while you're cooking.”
Yet he says there are all sorts of appliances and things within the home that can cause fires too.
'Things like heaters, things being too close to heaters, clothes dryers can cause fires, indoor fires and not using them properly, hot ashes, battery chargers, multi plugs [etc].”
Having clothes too close to a heater is one of the causes of house fires. Photo: Supplied.
Luke says most families are surprised in the case of their home becoming ablaze.
'Most people have thought that it wouldn't happen to them, and the other thing that is commonly said is people are surprised at just how quickly it happens. A very small fire can become a very big fire, very quickly and most people just don't realize the speed of fire.
'House fires can happen at any time, however, the danger is greatest when you're asleep.”
Luke says when people sleep their sense of smell is lost.
'You won't wake up to the smell of smoke –that's what a smoke detector is there for, to alert you to that build-up of smoke and to allow you to get out.
'When we're waking up is when we're going to make those decisions that aren't quite as sharp as they could be. That's where the importance of that rehearsed plan comes into it.”
Luke and his family have their own escape plan in case of a fire.
'We all know about having two ways out of the room, and also where to meet once we get out – so we will all go to a safe meeting space that we can actually confirm that everyone is out of the house.”
Luke says you can contact your local fires station for fire safety advice.
'The crews can come around and have a look through your house, look for any obvious dangers and talk to you about better ways of managing those risks. They can also advise you where smoke alarms should go to give you the best chance to escape your house.”
For fire safety tips this winter, visit: https://www.fireandemergency.nz/