Fire statistics published by the Fire Protection Association of South Africa show that 376 South Africans died in the more than 40 000 fires that occurred in 2007. As many as 9 746 fires were reported to have occurred in South African private homes during the same period, resulting in losses of more than R573bn.
There are time-tested ways in which to prevent and survive a fire. Fire prevention and survival requires practicing and planning ahead of time, keeping in mind that a fire might break out at any time. Minimising the risk of fires breaking out needlessly should be the number one priority in any fire safety strategy.
Preventions such as avoiding smoking indoors, regularly testing of electrical appliances, and removing electrical heaters, can help to reduce the risk of fires breaking out. Safety precautions should be taken in the home and you should have an appropriate fire safety and evacuation plan in place. As an employer, there is a legal requirement for fire risk assessment. Businesses should ensure that they have a well-defined fire evacuation plan in place.
Prevent fires from starting by doing the following:
* (excerpts from Safety First with SafeQuip)
Twenty five percent of these fires occurred in homes and cars, and handheld dry chemical powder (dcp) fire extinguishers are able to extinguish most of these types of fire. They are available at retail and hardware stores and are quite affordable. Fire blankets are fire-resistant, light and easy to handle. You can use them to extinguish a fire on a person whose clothing has caught alight by wrapping the blanket around their body. You can also use a fire blanket to cover a stove in the event of a pan fire, or even use one to cover yourself with, in order to escape a building that is on fire.
Fire alarms are underutilised in the home and alert occupants by detecting smoke. They also come with batteries, negating the need to connect to electricity.
All of the above items can be purchased together, in a box, called the Home Fire Safety Kit, and the Fire Safety Booklet can be downloaded for free from www.safequip.co.za