When temperatures plummet in winter, most people love to light a cosy fire or to snuggle up to a heater to keep warm. All of these heating efforts increase the risk of fires in the home, so it’s important to make everyone in your family aware of the dangers of fire during this season. Almost 99% of all fires are caused by human negligence, specifically through electrical faults or carelessness. Cigarettes, matches and lighters, candles, heating appliances and open braai fires can all cause fires if not carefully monitored.
To prevent the loss of lives and property, we’ve put together a few tips to stay safe whilst keeping warm this winter.
Fireplaces and braais
If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, it is a great way to stay warm and cosy this winter but be sure to have it inspected and cleaned regularly:
- Make your fire small enough to contain and keep flammable items away from the fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended and always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Use a screen in front of the fire and ensure there is proper ventilation in the room.
- Always extinguish fires and safely dispose of cigarettes, hot ash and coal (once cooled).
- For fireplaces with spark arrestors, always make sure that all the debris is cleared off the grid before starting a fire.
- Never put anything less than a metre in front of your heater, and never use it to dry clothes.
- Always turn heaters and electric blankets off when leaving the room or before going to bed.
- Check that windows open easily and always have an escape plan so you know what to do in a fire.
Electrical appliances and cooking
- Always work in an open, clear and well-ventilated area when working with power tools.
- Ensure that your electrical appliances are correctly wired.
- Don’t overload sockets.
- Keep the area around your home clear of flammable materials.
- Ideally use multi-plugs with surge protection devices fitted on them.
In case of a fire at home
- Sound the fire alarm if you have one, call emergency services and exit your home.
- If caught in a smoke-filled room, get as low as possible to the ground. You can also cover your mouth and nose with a moist cloth, to reduce smoke inhalation.
Santam helps to assist vulnerable communities against fire risk
The devastating fires in recent years have highlighted the need for better collaboration between provincial and district disaster management centres to enhance the capacity of local government in the areas of fire and flood risk management. Santam and the Department of Cooperative Governance has expanded their partnership to assist vulnerable communities against the risk of fire, flooding and storm surge hazards. Five million people stand to benefit from the extension of this Partnership for Risk and Resilience (P4RR). Read more here.