FIRE! don’t let it happen


A faulty light in a home in Orchards, Johannesburg, triggered a fire in the dead of night that left a woman and her two children dead. Only her husband, the father of her kids, escaped the smoke and flames.

The tragedy showed how easily a blaze can start and how devastating the consequences can be. In Britain about 68 000 house fires occur every year, most of them starting in kitchens. And while SA statistics aren’t available the picture is probably worse, given the many fires in informal settlements.

You must ensure your home is safe and as fire-resistant as possible, says Mark Ackers, director of the SA Fire and Medical Academy. ‘‘It’s also important to have an evacuation plan.’’

Yet most people think about fire safety only when it’s too late. ‘‘You can never be too careful,’’ Ackers says. ‘‘You and your family need to sit down and decide what you will do if the worst happens.’’

It doesn’t take much effort and it could save your life.

Primary fire hazards in a house are in the kitchen, lounge and bedrooms, City of Cape Town official Sylwine Rossouw says.

‘‘In the kitchen it’s because of food preparation, while lounges and bedrooms are usually the rooms in which you use several electrical appliances.’’

That’s why you should keep fire extinguishers in your kitchen, living area and bedroom.’’

And beware of smouldering cigarettes! ‘‘Lots of fires start because cigarettes aren’t properly extinguished or because people fall asleep while smoking.’’

A smoke alarm is essential. ‘‘Most house fires break out at night when everyone’s asleep. A smoke alarm can wake you up before it’s too late,’’ Ackers says.

And you should have your home’s electrical wiring checked from time to time. Ackers also recommends you have an electrician go over the wiring every two years. ‘‘Most people call an electrician only when something goes wrong.’’

Read all the safety ideas in the 5 August issue of YOU.

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