Wednesday, May 2, 2012

With temperatures quickly plummeting with the onset of winter, Dial Direct Insurance is urging homeowners to be careful when using heating appliances.

“The risk of fire as a result of the careless use of heating appliances remains an overarching threat for homeowners. We often hear heart-wrenching stories of people being hurt or killed and property destroyed in shack fires. But, what a lot of people don’t realise is that the average family home is also at risk of catching fire, particularly in winter when the people use heaters, fire places and electric blankets to keep warm,” says Telesure MD, Thomas Creamer.

Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the winter months of May, June and July, and is the second-leading cause of home fires year-round. Cooking is the number one cause of home fires and half of all home fire deaths occur at night, so fire hazard checks should become habitual before going to bed.

“Almost every single South African household uses some sort of electric heater, fireplace or fuel-fired heater for space heating in winter. Most people use these appliances without much thought. It is important for people to remember than whenever they use gas or fire in their homes, they need to be vigilant.

“Homeowners should also ensure that all heating equipment is properly maintained and fit for the job. Fireplace-related incidents account for a big portion of house fires in South Africa and often these are due to poor maintenance,” stresses Creamer.

The main causes of house fires include:

  • Heaters, stoves, irons, electrical blankets and other electrical equipment left on or unattended.
  • Candles left unattended or left burning near curtains.
  • Leaking gas heaters or stoves.
  • Paraffin stoves left unattended.
  • An overheating computer that ignites.
  • Cellphone chargers left unattended in the socket.
  • Electrical overload on one power source.
  • Children who play with matches or lighters near flammable objects.
  • Falling asleep with a lit cigarette in bed.


Thomas Creamer offers the following safety tips as prevention is always better than cure:

  • Install smoke alarms throughout your home.
  • Have a fire extinguisher available on every level of your home, and specifically near the kitchen.
  • 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.
  • Unplug and switch off all electrical appliances that are not in use.
  • Do not overload one single power source.
  • Ensure that electrical wiring is in tact.
  • Keep clutter to a minimum in and around your home.
  • Never leave heaters, electrical blankets or stoves unattended.
  • Check your heating appliances for damage before you “fire them up” this winter.
  • Make sure you have adequate residential buildings insurance in place to cover you in the event of a fire at your home.

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