Wednesday, January 4, 2017


The warning of rising temperatures in the Western Cape could pose the threat of more fires in the province that was recently ravaged by widespread blazes. Although the fires were brought under control, the precarious weather conditions demand continued vigilance from residents. With this in mind, it’s vital that you are prepared in case of a fire and that you know how to prevent one.

According to Graham Craggs, spokesperson for Budget Insurance, “Considering the rapid rate at which this recent spate of fires spread, it is imperative that you know what to do if your house catches alight and to take preventative measures. Responding quickly and correctly can go a long way to preventing injuries and keeping your family safe.”

Aside from general fire safety that prevents a fire from starting in your home – including the inspection of wiring and appliances, safely working with gas and heaters, or simply responsible smoking practices – it’s important to take steps to prevent a fire from spreading to your home.

Especially if you live in an area that is prone to runaway fires, you can follow these preventative tips offered by Budget Insurance:

  • Make sure that you use fire retardant materials or treatments on roofs, walls, wooden decks, etc. as far as possible.
  • Remove any flammable materials like dead branches, long grass, rubbish bins and boxes from around your house. Also remove flammable materials from the roof and gutters.
  • Cut away any trees or other plants that grow too close to your house, as these could be conduits for fire.
  • Plan your garden and paving in such a way that they provide both horizontal and vertical fire breaks.
  • Store flammable chemicals and fuels away from the house.
  • Spark proof your house and outbuildings by closing up any gaps between panels like soffit and fascia boards that sparks could be blown into.
  • Vents and windows are prime spots for sparks and embers to gather – close these if need be.
  • Ensure that you have a working fire extinguisher, from a reputable source, and that you know how to use it.
  • Consider investing in fireproof blankets that can withstand high temperatures.
  • Familiarise everyone with the relevant emergency numbers.   

In the event that you are caught in a runaway fire:

  • Decide on a safe place to meet outside the house.
  • Evacuate immediately when prompted – never try collect belongings before evacuating.
  • Don’t re-enter the house once outside.
  • Don’t open doors of rooms you suspect are on fire or if the door’s handle is hot. Look for an alternative route instead.
  • Never enter rooms that are already on fire.
  • Crawl low to the ground when leaving a room filled with smoke to reduce smoke inhalation.
  • If you are trapped, close the door to the room and put a blanket or towel at the bottom of the door to keep out the smoke.
  • Wrap yourself in a blanket and call for help from the window if you cannot open a door for a way out.

Craggs concludes, “Possessions can be replaced but lives cannot – protect yourself and your family by planning an exit strategy and keeping fire extinguishers within reach of everyone in the home. This could mean the difference between life and death.”

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