The biggest threat during the winter months is household fires which are mostly started accidently by people being careless with open flames. Gauteng’s beautiful dry winters mean when a fire breaks out the consequences can be devastating.
Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing & Communications Manager of Fidelity ADT, says it’s a critical time of the year for education around fire safety. “Every year we get called out to many fire incidents during the winter months. Besides the obvious threat of losing their lives, people can lose their homes and possessions in a matter of minutes when a fire breaks out,” she says.
She adds that when officers respond to the scene of a fire, more often than not there are no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers at the premises. While there seems to be a shift towards greater fire prevention measures being put in place in homes and businesses, more still needs to be done.
“Installing smoke alarms isn’t common practice in South Africa – but it should be. Linked to an armed response service, you’ll have peace of mind that help is on its way in the event of a fire emergency, when every second counts,” she says.
One of the most common causes of residential fires are indoor or outdoor fireplaces. Thatch lapas are especially vulnerable. Other causes of household fires include worn out electrical wires and appliances, burning candles, heaters, electric blankets, children playing with matches, gas leaks and burning oil left unattended on a stove.
“We are entering a high danger period for fires especially because of the high chance of power outages and drier and more static air. From June to the end of August, more fires are reported annually than during any other period in the year,” warns Hattingh.
Fidelity ADT’s Do’s and Don’ts:
- Install smoke alarms and have them linked to your alarm system
- Buy at least one fire extinguisher for your home
- Know your emergency numbers and what to do in an emergency
- Check electrical cables for faults and take note of warnings on electrical appliances
- Keep low when exiting a smoke-filled room and cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth
- Work out an emergency fire drill with your family
- Leave a burning candle, heater, pot of oil or fire unattended – ever!
- Pack up your personal belongings before getting to safety
- Try to put an oil fire out with water
- Open a door which is hot to the touch
- Go back into the house if you’ve made it outside safely
- Go into a room that is on fire
“Fire safety is complex but there are certain basic concepts that help prevent the start and spread of fires. Fires can be deadly and devastating. We encourage everyone to spend a bit of time thinking about fire prevention and taking steps to ensure their loved ones are protected,” concludes Hattingh.