Winter brings its own distinctive set of safety challenges to people living in informal settlements. During this season, people who live in informal settlements will make use of all kinds of measures to warm themselves. One of the most common measures is open flames. Candles, matches and lighters can be dangerous if special care is not taken. Heating appliances and paraffin appliances can also be dangerous if not used correctly. The City of Tshwane appeals to older persons to tell children about the dangers of fire and not to play with any item that can create open flames.
In order to ensure that there are no surprises during this winter, the City would like to share some valuable information about the prevention of fires with people residing in informal settlements. This is because these people are more vulnerable to fire outbreaks because many shacks are not the recommended minimum safety distance of 3 m apart.
Here are some safety tips for preventing shack fires:
- Never cook near materials that can ignite and start a fire.
- Make sure that all stoves are on a stable surface to prevent them from falling over.
- Make sure all candles are placed in a safe, non-combustible candle holder away from burning material.
- Be aware of the dangers of illegal and faulty electrical connections. Any electrical connection must be installed by an accredited electrician.
- Discard cigarettes in a safe container and ensure they are completely put out.
- Keep a bucket with water handy to extinguish small fires when they start, as fire spreads rapidly.
- Always have a bucket of sand nearby when using a paraffin appliance. Water will not put out a paraffin fire and can make matters worse by spreading the flames. Paraffin fires can only be extinguished using sand or a fire extinguisher.
- Build dwellings a good distance apart (at least 3 m) to prevent fires from spreading rapidly. The open space must also be kept clean.
- Keep roads and the access to dwellings clear at all times so that emergency vehicles can move around easily.
- Do not block roads with possessions when there is a fire.
- Do not prevent or disrupt emergency personnel when they attend to incidents, as they are there to save lives and prevent the destruction of property.
- All open fires must be extinguished before you leave the area or go to sleep.
- Ensure that there is enough ventilation when cooking food on open flames inside your dwelling.
- Take special care when using gas appliances to cook food. The cylinders must be in a good condition and tested regularly for any leaks that might cause a fire and/or an explosion.
- Never leave a brazing or coal fire overnight inside the house, as it is a health hazard and could cause breathing difficulties.
- Never lock your door from the inside using a padlock; instead use a shooter for easy unlocking should a fire occur.
It is advisable to identify a group of people in the community to assist with evacuation, basic firefighting and order once a fire has started.
A request for training of a community emergency response team can be forwarded to Mr Tebogo Maake at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact him at 012 358 6806.
All emergency numbers must be communicated to the community so they can report incidents to the correct services once an emergency occurs.
THINK SAFE – ACT SAFE – BE SAFE
012 310 6300 and 012 310 6400