Community News

Prevent shack fires

Michele du Plessis

A fire in Sabie’s Phola Park decimated a family’s earthly possessions, reducing everything they owned to a heap of ashes. The family the fire, but the mother received treatment in Sabie Hospital for burn wounds.

Adrian de Salis, Sabie Spar Manager, asked for assistance for the Spar staff member and the family. The Sabie community gave with open hearts to help this unfortunate family. “It is with a grateful heart that we can say we have received in abundance. The family want to extend their heartfelt gratitude for the generous assistance. It is great to know people still care about others,” Adrian wrote.

Informal settlements use all sorts of measures to keep themselves warm, to cook their food and heat water for washing. The items range from heating appliances, paraffin appliances and candles. Then you also have lighters, matches and open fires. Unfortunately, the shacks are built close together in informal settlements and the risk of fire spreading and loss of life is really high.

What can we do to prevent shack fires?

  • Candles, matches and lighters can also be dangerous if special care is not taken when they are used.
  • Never cook near materials that can ignite and start a fire.
  • Make sure that all candles are placed in a safe, non-combustible candle-holder away from material that can burn.
  • Be aware of the dangers of illegal and faulty electrical connections. Any electrical connection must be done by an accredited electrician.
  • Make sure cigarettes are put out completely.
  • Keep a bucket with water handy to extinguish small fires, because fire spreads rapidly.
  • Always have a bucket of sand nearby when using a paraffin appliance. Water will not put out a paraffin fire. In fact, it will make matters worse by spreading the flames. Paraffin fires can only be extinguished using sand or a fire extinguisher.
  • Build dwellings a good distance (at least three meters) apart to prevent fires from spreading rapidly. The open space between dwellings must be kept clean.
  • Keep roads and access to dwellings clear at all times so that emergency vehicles have unobstructed access.
  • Do not block roads with possessions when there is a fire.
  • Do not obstruct or hinder emergency personnel when they attend to incidents, as they are there to save lives and prevent the destruction of property by fire.
  • All open fires must be extinguished before you leave the area or go to sleep.
  • Ensure that there is enough ventilation when food is being cooked on open flames inside your dwelling.
  • Take special care when using gas appliances to cook food. The cylinders must be in good condition and tested regularly for any leaks that might cause a fire and or an explosion.
  • Keep a close eye on paraffin stoves. Don’t cook near a window with a curtain.
  • Make sure the stove does not fall over, which may cause a fire and burn children.
  • Teach children about the dangers of fire.

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