Have an EMERGENCYfire escape plan

2016-05-25 06:00
PHOTO: supplied Every second counts when a fire breaks out in your home, so plan ahead and try to avoid a tragedy.

PHOTO: supplied Every second counts when a fire breaks out in your home, so plan ahead and try to avoid a tragedy.

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SOUTH Africans know that it is important to have security gates on every door and burglar bars on every window in their home to keep intruders out, but when there’s a fire, this precaution can turn your house into a death trap.

Make sure you and your family are safe by following these emergency fire-escape safety tips.

• Don’t fit fixed burglar bars to every­ window. Install burglar proofing that can open on at least one window, to use as an escape route.

• Select a “safe room” you can use in the event of a crisis. The bathroom is a good option as there is running water­, a toilet to use while you’re trapped, and it’s the place where people usually keep vital medicines such as asthma pumps. You can also wet a towel and wrap it around you in the case of fire. Fit burglar proofing that opens the window in this room so you can get out if necessary.

• Store your emergency exit window keys where you can find them quickly. A hook next to the window is a good option. Don’t leave them in the lock because robbers will use them if they break the window.

• If you are in a high-rise block or have a double-storey home, fit an emergency exit security gate to a veranda door in addition to those on your windows so you have an alternative escape route. Again, keep spare keys where you can find them easily. If you have a security gate on your front door, keep spare keys on a hook next to the door.

• Fit fire alarms in strategic areas around the home as well as panic buttons­ if you are woken by a fire or robbers. Even if you don’t have armed response, your neighbours will be alerted.

• Keep a list of emergency phone numbers on your cellphone. Print them out and stick on the wall next to the landline if you have one.

• Check systems such as automated doors, panic buttons, sensor beams and smoke alarms regularly to make sure they are working.

Also remember:

• make sure your family knows where your fire escape is;

• it’s essential to have a fire emergency exit escape plan and to practise it with your family;

• if there is a fire in your home, get everyone out and stay out. Don’t go back inside; and

• in a high-rise building, don’t use the lift as they are not fire proof - rather use the stairs.

— Women24.

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