How to prevent house fires

A house fire earlier this week in Florida. Photo: Supplied

After a Florida family lost everything they own when their house burnt down on 18 April, the question must be asked, “How do I protect myself and prevent fires at home?”

According to Arrive Alive, emergency personnel respond to fires at homes and informal settlements across South Africa on a regular basis. This prompted them to publish information on how to protect yourself from house fires.

Accidental fires are just that – an accident – but there are a number of ways to prevent an accidental fire from starting in your home. The first step is to arm yourself with knowledge about the possible causes of fire and being aware of seemingly harmless objects in your home that could ignite and lead to a fire.

To prevent a fire at home, here are some simple dos and don’ts to help:

• Do buy a small fire extinguisher from a reputable dealer to keep in your home. Familiarise yourself with how to use it.

• Do know your emergency numbers.

• Do take note of warnings on selected appliances.

• Do check electrical cables for damage on a regular basis.

• Do extinguish cigarettes/ cigars and pipe tobacco appropriately.

• Do stay low on the ground when exiting a smoke-filled room. Smoke rises and staying low will minimise smoke inhalation.

• Do cover your nose and mouth with a moist cloth to minimise smoke inhalation.

• Do exit the burning building as soon and safely as possible.

• Don’t leave a room unattended where a candle is burning, a heater is on, the fire in the fire place is burning, oil is on the stove top, etc.

• Don’t pack personal belongings before leaving the house in the event of a fire.

• Don’t try and extinguish an oil fire in the kitchen with water – use bicarbonate of soda instead.

• Don’t open a closed door to a room suspected to be on fire.

• Don’t enter a room that is on fire.

• Don’t re-enter your home once you have exited away from the fire.

Should a fire break out in your home, do the following immediately:

• Raise the alarm – to others in the house and your neighbours.

• Call the fire department – even for small fires. Their numbers are 10177 or 112 if you are phoning from a cellphone.

• State the nature of the incident.

• Give the physical address and nearest corner or landmark.

• Remain on the line as long as possible to answer the operator’s questions.

• If there is excessive smoke in the room, crawl out on the floor.

• If someone has been burnt, only put water on the burns and remove any jewellery and tight clothing.

• If someone is suffering from smoke inhalation, move them to an area with fresh air – only if possible.

These are the basic concepts of fire safety that can help prevent fires from starting and spreading, as fires not only cause burns but also severe complications from smoke inhalation, resulting in severe injuries or even death.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected] (remember to include your contact details) or phone us on 011 955 1130.

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites 

Randfontein Herald

Krugersdorp News 

Get It Joburg West Magazine

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Adéle Bloem

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