“When our officers respond to the scene of a fire, more often than not there are no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers at the premises,” said Ivan Govender, district manager (KwaZulu-Natal) for Fidelity ADT.
He added that 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.
“There is still a general apathy towards purchasing fire safety equipment with many residents thinking, ‘it’ll never happen to me’. Unfortunately, fires do break out as we’ve seen with many of our customers. Fires break out because of pots of oil left on the stove, veld fires on neighbouring properties, electrical faults and so on.
Fire has the potential to wipe out everything in its path in just minutes. It can smolder undetected for hours then suddenly explode engulfing the house. You need to take every possible precaution to minimise the risks,” added Govender.
With winter approaching we are entering a high danger period for fires because of the potential overloading of power sockets and the prevalence of indoor fireplaces being used in homes.
“As the months get colder, residents bring out heaters and light indoor fires. Often appliances, such as heaters, that haven’t been used for several months become electrically unsafe and can cause a fire when switched on for the first time. Residents need to be aware of this potential danger and should ensure their homes and businesses are equipped, firstly to detect a fire and, secondly, to deal with one should a fire break out.”
Advice on how to fireproof your home and business:
· Have emergency numbers clearly displayed near a telephone or stored in a easily accessible place on your smartphone.
· Check your premises and identify potential fire hazards. Thatched roofs, exposed electrics, flammable liquids, gas cylinders and the likes should all be considered as hazards and action taken to minimise the risk.
· If you are buying, building or renovating your home, make sure all roofing materials are fire resistant.
· Install a smoke detector. It acts as an early warning detection service of a potential fire hazard. The detector will not pick up a naked flame but rather smoke or a smouldering fire. This is a key preventative measure. Consider linking the detector to your alarm or security system. If they are linked, your private security companies can contact the fire department on your behalf while sending out personnel to assist.
· Buy fire extinguishers and make sure these are kept in sight around the house. Ensure that they are regularly serviced.
· Clean your gutters regularly. Dry leaves and evergreen needles in rain gutters can easily catch fire.
· Trim back any tree limbs that are within close range of your chimney and dead limbs overhanging your home to prevent them from catching fire.
· Do not overload electrical sockets or run electrical cords under carpets.
· If you live near a veld, consider removing any dry branches that may hang over your property wall that could catch fire should a veldfire break out. Creating a fire break to prevent sparks and embers from entering your property may also be worthwhile considering.
· Store firewood and other combustibles away from your home and keep the lids on your dustbins.
Lastly, having an evacuation plan in place is paramount. Everyone needs to know what the quickest escape route is should a fire break out and where the fire extinguishers and blankets are. Never re-enter the house for personal belongings should a fire break-out. If your clothing catches fire – stop, drop and roll. Tackle the fire only if it is safe to do so.
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