As winter strengthens its icy grip - gas
heaters, fireplaces, electric heaters, paraffin stoves, electric blankets, hot,
home-cooked meals and more are being summoned to drive away the cold. Following
an increasing amount of house fires - South Africans are urged to be more
vigilant when it comes to fire safety.
According to City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson,
Robert Mulaudzi said, paraffin stoves and candles remain the most common cause
of fires in informal settlements, whilst electric and gas heaters pose a
significant challenge for EMS in other neighbourhoods. There are, however,
countless other ways in which house fires can start.
“One of the biggest concerns around house
fires is the belief that ‘it can never happen to me’,” says Ricardo Coetzee,
Head of Auto & General Insurance, “The fact is that it can and will if you
let your guard down. It takes only one ember close to a flammable material, one
faulty gas hose or wire or one switch left on or in an open setting for you to
become part of the statistics of total loss of your property… or worse.”
The following safety tips
can help prevent winter warmth turning into a chilly catastrophe:
Trust the pros: Make sure that all
heating appliances and devices are SABS approved and, where applicable,
installed by a certified service provider. Improperly installed heating devices
have been the cause of numerous deaths in South Africa.
Read and obey the manual: It’s crucial to
operate devices within manufacturers’ limits. Setting a device to maximum heat
for extended periods of time, not placing a device on a level surface, moving
it around whilst in operation or charging a device for longer than recommended,
for example, could pose a serious risk.
Wire and pipe check: Make sure that
appliances and other heating devices, as well as their piping and wiring, are
in a good, safe working order. Take gas bottles to your nearest gas retailer to
have them checked for leaks on a regular basis. This includes gas bottles used
for heaters, braais and stoves.
Keep an eye: In the US, fires
resulting from cooking, and more specifically unattended cooking, is a major
concern. Never leave heaters, electrical blankets, candles or stoves
unattended. Exercise special caution before going to bed at night to make sure
that all heat sources are turned off.
Plug pressure: Do not overload one
single power source. Unplug and switch off all electrical appliances that are
not in use.
Vent wise: Make sure that heating,
electric and electronic devices are in a spacious and well-ventilated spot to
prevent overheating. Do not cover heaters with clothing or other material that
you wish to warm or dry.
Light first, gas second: If you have a gas
heater or cook with gas, light the match or lighter first, before turning on
Declutter: Keep clutter to a
minimum in and around your home, as this could add fuel to a fire, and keep
flammable materials, including fuels, far away from heat sources.
Smoke smart: If possible,
install smoke detectors throughout your home.
Arm’s reach: Have a fire
extinguisher available, specifically near the kitchen and other areas where
heat sources are frequently used. Make sure that you know how to activate and
Emergency plan: Make sure that trip
switches and emergency cut-off valves are in good working order. Have all
emergency contact details within easy reach and don’t wait until a fire is out
of control before contacting emergency response teams.
“Attention to detail and continued vigilance
can save your home and/or the lives of your loved ones, so it’s imperative to
not save fire safety discussions for later, when it may be too late,” says
“In the event that calamity does strike,
always remember, firstly, that your life is more important than any possession
and, secondly, that having comprehensive insurance in place should be
For assistance with Home insurance please feel
free to visit our website www.esbrokers.co.za.
Article courtesy of Property 24
Pictures by Pixabay