Smoke alarms and fire detection measures are not nearly as common in South African homes as they should be, and this is something that deserves attention. That is the warning that has been issued this week by Fidelity Fire Solutions, a division of the Fidelity Services Group.
“Household fires are often caused by accident or by some kind of careless lapse of concentration. If proper warning measures are put in place, these small flames can be detected and extinguished long before they cause big damage,” says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager for the Fidelity Services Group.
The group’s armed response officers, she adds, have responded to a number of incidents where customers have reported flames or fires at home. This includes candles that have been knocked over by accident, or flames in outdoor braai areas or thatched roofs.
Other causes of household fires include worn out electrical wires and appliances, unattended heaters, electric blankets, children playing with matches, gas leaks and burning oil left unattended on a stove.
“We recommend installing smoke alarms that are linked and monitored to your armed response service provider. You will have peace of mind that help is on its way in the event of a fire emergency, when every second counts,” says Hattingh.
She explains there are a number of do’s and don’ts’s to consider:
- Install smoke alarms and have them linked to your alarm system
- Buy at least one fire extinguisher for your home
- Know your emergency numbers and what to do in an emergency. Make sure the local fire department’s number is pre-loaded on your phone
- 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
- Leave a burning candle, heater, pot of oil or fire unattended
- Pack up your personal belongings before getting to safety
- Try to put an oil fire out 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
“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,” she says.