CAPE TOWN – As we move into fire season many of us will be thinking about the precautions we can take to keep our homes safe. With water scarcity a very real concern, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to making your home as fireproof as possible. In the latest #FixForwardFix, we take a look at a few easy to implement DIY tips and tricks to safeguard your home this fire season. With a few simple precautions, you can protect against both starting fires in the home and minimising the threat of wildfires outside.
1. Draw Up a Fire Safety Plan
In the unfortunate event of a fire, make sure that you and your family members are aware of the best way to get safely out of the danger zone, quickly. Decide on an assembly point outside that is free from overhanging objects and away from any flammable objects if possible. Once you’re all there, call the fire department for help.
2. Get a Fire Extinguisher
A household fire extinguisher is one of the most important elements in fireproofing your home. Varying considerably in size and price, make sure that your extinguisher conforms to SABS standards and has not expired. Keep your extinguisher(s) somewhere that is easily accessible to where you might need it most, for example the kitchen. Regular servicing will keep your extinguisher ready for action when things get heated.
3. Install Smoke Detectors
Small and relatively inexpensive, smoke detectors can be vital in alerting you to fires or smoke when you are sleeping or otherwise distracted. Easy to install, most smoke detectors only need a few AA batteries to run and are pretty much maintenance free. Keep your batteries charged and your smoke detector will prove invaluable in an emergency.
4. Maintain Electrical Outlets
Fortunately, many household fires are avoidable with proper electrical maintenance. The electricity coursing through the mainlines makes for a deadly fire starter if not correctly insulated or controlled. Inspect all of the wiring and outlets in your house – are there any frayed or exposed wires? Is the cable of your appliance damaged? Repair or replace any wires or other electrical components that are not properly insulated or have your house checked by one of our certified electricians if you’re unsure.
5. Never Leave an Open Flame Unattended
Whether you’re burning a candle, boiling the kettle, or having a braai, never (ever) leave a flame unattended. A fire can go from being under control to raging in a very short space of time, so keep a keen eye on any and all flames in your home.
6. Clear Combustible Debris From Around Your Home
Keeping your yard or garden clear from combustible debris like dry grass, dead leaves or fallen branches is an excellent way to protect your home. The clearer your home is from anything that can catch alight, the better. If you have access to a nearby water source, make sure you know of the quickest way to get to it.
7. Secure Your Roof
With the Cape’s propensity for really heavy winds in summer, burning embers blowing through the air are a major fire and safety hazard. Inspect your roof to ensure that there are no gaps or openings that an ember could land in. If possible, replace your existing roof finish with a fire retardant material such as treated wood or terracotta. Sounds like a job for one of our expert tradesmen!
8. Store Combustible Materials Safely
If you have gas, paraffin or any other flammable material in your home, be sure to store it in a safe place that is dry, cool and out of direct sunlight. Hazardous materials should also be stored in a place that is not easily accessible by children.
We hope that you and your family are safe during fire season. Remember that these guidelines are just that – we do not offer professional fire protection advice. Lastly, our thanks and appreciation go out to all of our firefighters – both professional and volunteer – over this grueling period. Keep up the good work!