A fire last week where two young children died and seven others were admitted to hospital after a fire broke out in a building in the CBD and another fire where a child tragically died in Claremont have highlighted the importance of fire safety during the winter months.
Winter is traditionally a high danger period for fires because of electricity shortages, drier and more static air, overloading of power sockets and increased utilization of home fires. Regular evening load shedding is also a potential risk.
Each year hundreds of people in South Africa are killed or injured and millions of Rands are lost because of fires. Many of these fires could have been prevented if people had known more about fire hazards and what to do in the event of a fire.
ADT Security highlight some key pointers to keep in mind during the winter months:
- Parents need to teach their children at a young age that fire can be dangerous and that they must not play with matches.
- Special care must be taken when using an iron. Be careful where you put it down, and never leave it unattended.
- Never put a heater near combustible materials which can catch fire easily and burn.
- Be careful when using a primus stove and again, never leave it unattended.
- When using gas appliances make sure that there are no gas leaks in the connection and that the gas cylinder is in good condition. One must always use a gas appliance in a well-ventilated area.
- Smoking can also be hazardous and no one should smoke in bed.
- Candles are a big fire hazard. When children use candles, a parent or other adult must supervise them or watch over them.
- Candles also need to be put in proper holders to prevent them from falling over and setting fire to something. This is particularly important during load shedding when people use candles.
- Wall plugs should never be overloaded and only one plug should be used for each wall socket.
Theunis Kotze, ADT General Manager Inland Region, says it is important to note that when a fire ignites, it is not only the flames that present a danger, but the heat and harmful gas emitted can often be even more life threatening. “It is very important that people know how to react when they are faced with a fire. Everyone in the home should know the fire emergency number: 10177 or from a cell phone 112. “Ideally every home should have a fire extinguisher and/or smoke detector. For small fires sand and water work effectively to extinguish a flame.”
And as the fire department warn if you are caught in a flame and your clothes catch on fire remember to:
Stop – Do not run away or try to remove your clothes
Drop – Drop to the ground and cover your eyes and nose with your hands
Roll – Roll forwards and backwards on the ground to smother the flames.