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Negligence about open flames causes most winter home fires

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"Spend a bit of time thinking about fire prevention and taking steps to ensure their loved ones are protected."

One of the biggest threats during the winter is household fires which are mostly started accidentally by people being careless with open flames.

It is, therefore, a critical time of the year for education around fire safety, says Charnel Hattingh, marketing and communications manager at Fidelity ADT.

“Every winter we get called out to many fire incidents. Besides the obvious threat of losing their lives, people can lose their homes and possessions in a matter of minutes when a fire breaks out.”

Furthermore, when officers respond to a fire, more often than not, there are no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers at the premises.

Although there has been a shift towards greater fire prevention measures in homes and businesses, more still needs to be done, says Hattingh.

“Installing smoke alarms isn’t common in South Africa – but it should be. Linked to an armed response service, you will have peace of mind that help is on its way in the event of a fire, when every second counts.”

One of the most common causes of residential fires is indoor or outdoor fireplaces. Thatched lapas are especially vulnerable. Other causes of household fires include worn electrical wires and appliances; burning candles; heaters; electric blankets; children playing with matches; gas leaks and burning oil left unattended on a stove.

“We are entering a high danger period for fires especially because of the high chance of power outages. More fires are reported from June to the end of August than during any other period in the year.”

She adds: “Fire safety is complex but there are certain basic concepts that help prevent the start and spread of fires. Fires can be deadly and devastating.

“We encourage everyone to spend a bit of time thinking about fire prevention and taking steps to ensure their loved ones are protected,” Hattingh says

Advice from Fidelity ADT:

DO:

* Install smoke alarms and have them linked to your alarm system.

* Buy at least one fire extinguisher for your home.

* Know your emergency phone numbers and what to do in an emergency.

* Check electrical cables for faults and take note of warnings on electrical appliances.

* Keep low when exiting a smoke-filled room and cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth.

* Work out an emergency fire drill with your family.

DON’T:

* Leave a burning candle, a heater, pot of oil or fire unattended – ever!

* Pack up your personal belongings before getting to safety.

* Try to put out an oil fire with water.

* Open a door which is hot to the touch.

* Go back into the house if you’ve made it outside safely.

* Go into a room that is on fire.

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