The portal for public information to residents within the Victor Khanye Municipal area on safety
By notice from the Webmaster
FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR A SAFER HOME ENVIRONMENT
So... you are at home, and you think that the risk of fires are only at your work, at your home everything is safe, what could go wrong??
How many of us have this perception? The question is, are your sanctuary really safe from the ultimate destruction tool?
Do you have measures in place to prevent an unfortunate outbreak of fire, or other emergency for that matter? What do you have if something does go wrong. and does your family know what to do or how to use the right equipment?
This page is intended to provide basic education in terms of fire at the house environment and to help to prepare for that unfortunate events.
Over the next few months we will try and cover as much as possible to ensure that you get the right information to help you make your home safe and protect your loved ones. As we progress, the pages will be saved as downloadable PDF documents for you to have available for future references.
Ready? Lets run into your house....
Fire Safety around the House - Part 1
Building fires, especially house fires have devastating effects on family and communities and are a common occurence, especially under the lower income groups. Based on reseach on statistical data there are numerous causes for these fires of which Arson is the worst type.
Common causes of house fires;
Negligence, including cooking
Deliberate fire setting
Intensional fire setting (Arson)
The number one cause is cooking related incidents such as overheating oil, gas related use
House fires are posing a serious threat to children as they are vulnerable. Children left unsupervised play with matches and fires start as a result thereof.
What can we do to protect ourselves and to prevent fires at home?
Accidental fires are just that – accidents. But there are however ways to prevent these “accidents” to occur.
Lets start with what causes a fire to start and work from there.
For a fire to start four elements need to be in place, we call this the fire tetrahedron and it represent what is needed for a fire to start.
First of all, you need something that can burn – the fuel. This can be paper, wood, liquid fuel and so much more.
Secondly, you need something that can start the fire – we call this the ignition or heat source. An open flame from a match or lighter, an open heater, open electrical wires, etc.
Then you need oxygen as the fire, such as us need oxygen to live, this one is always readily available as it is all around us.
Lastly, we need these three items to be in sufficient amounts to cause the required chemical reactions to produce the fire.
And then…. There is a fire burning.
Lets look at items that can provide the heat (ignition) for the fire;
Faulty electrical wiring, or overloaded extension cables
Embers from a cigarette
Fire places or bolas
Gas equipment that are not maintained
Children playing with matches or lighters
Oil left unattended and on a stove top
There are more if you look around your house.
Now, if you add something that can burn such as paper, grass, wood, etc., a fire can start easily, and then… you have a fire!
So what can you do to prevent this fire from starting or growing. Now that becomes easy…
The first is to prevent these two items to be close to each other. Keep a distance clear from the things that can start a fire, like put matches and lighters at a safe place, or do not leave children unattended near open flames, or keep the blanket that you sit under away from the heater or bola (coal heater), Do not put too many appliances plugged into the same electrical outlet or on the same electrical extension cord.
Very important to parents, keep flammable liquids sealed and out of reach of children. Remember that most synthetic materials used widely in household furniture are highly flammable and can burn very fast once they start burning.
With this knowledge in mind here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind…
Buy a fire extinguisher from a registered dealer to keep in the home at an easy to reach place, know how to use the extinguishers and its limitations.
Familiarize yourself with your area’s emergency numbers
Take note of warnings on electrical equipment, such as do not cover heaters
Check electrical cables regularly for their condition and the load on them.
Keep matches and lighters stored safely out of reach of children
Keep open flames such as candles on a stable surface high enough or safe enough away from the reach of children.
Stay low to the ground when there are smoke or fire when exiting the house (Smoke and heat will rise towards the ceiling and by staying low will
assist in preventing or minimizing inhalation of smoke or hot gases.
Cover your mouth and nose wit a moist cloth, this will also minimize inhalation injuries
Exit the house or building as soon as possible to prevent becoming trapped
Smokers, make sure that the cigarette is properly extinguished in the appropriate manner.
Even though it is not legally required in South Africa, it is a good practise to have a smoke detector connected to your alarm system installed and
checked at least once a year
Teach children on the dangers of flammable liquids
If cooking with, or using gas, make sure the valve is properly closed after using it
Store fuel away from where the devices are used
If your clothing catches fire, STOP, DROP, ROLL
Tackle the fire ONLY if it is safe to do so
Leave a room where a candle is burning, heater is on, fire in the fireplace is burning fiercely, oil is on the stove top, etc.
Pack personal belongings before leaving the house in the event of a fire
Try to put an oil fire on the stove out with water
Open a closed door of a room suspected to be on fire
Enter a room that is on fire
Re-enter the house once you have exited away from the fire
Use any gas devices with damaged or leaking hoses or connectors, rather replace the damaged item or replace the appliance
Store fuel or flammable liquids in beverage containers
What to do when a fire breaks out
Raise the alarm, let others in the house know that there is a fire
Call the fire department immediately, even for small fires (it is easier to cancel the fire department if you manage to put the fire out yourself
than to call upon them after all hope is lost.
Evacuate your house and remain outside.
If there is a lot of smoke in the room, crawl out on the floor.
Know your emergency numbers!
Know how to use the fire extinguisher
It is important to know how to use a fire extinguisher and what you can use it on. The label on the fire extinguisher provide all these information, so familiarize yourself with the label. To use the fire extinguisher there is a very easy acronym to remember it by, which is P.A.S.S. the picture below explains this use process
Secondly, you cannot survive long in cold conditions without giving your body heat, the same, a fire needs heat to start and continue to burn).
Then there is the common factor, without oxygen, you cannot breathe and you will die, the same with a fire, it needs oxygen to continue burning. Then, lastly the chemical reaction, your body needs air, food and heat to be able to function and keep you alive, the same with a fire, it needs something to eat, breathe and keep warm in just the right amounts to keep burning and grow.
Fire Extinguisher explained
Capacity of extinguisher
Classes of fire / on what it can be used
Brief description of how to use the extinguisher
In Part two, we will start to concentrate on the outside of the house, this will be in preparation for the comming grassfire season.
We will also touch on space heating, which is also a fire risk entering the winter season.
Part two will be added uploaded by end of April.