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In Joburg, winter is fire season as people use whatever they can to keep warm. But preventing fires is possible with a simple safety plan.
CITY residents have got a strict warning from Joburg’s emergency management services (EMS) to beware of fire.


Extra care should be takenFires lead to loss of propertyThey have been urged to take action in the cold and dry winter months to prevent escalating incidents of fire. Fire can be averted by following a logical, simple and detailed safety plan, which can save lives as well as properties worth millions of rand.

According to Percy Morokane, the EMS spokesperson, in winter 2010, five people died in fire at their homes. “The death of one person from a fire incident is one too many,” he says. “We are working on a zero-fatality factor attainment.”

The City has a disaster management plan that seeks to prevent life-threatening injuries and deaths. “It also contains strategies and contingencies aimed at reducing the impact of any major disastrous occurrence, whether man-made or natural, as and when it happens.”

It is essential to have a safety plan, he adds. This will help prevent major personal losses in an outbreak of fire.

Every household and business should have a “safety check plan”. The person who leaves the property last, after everyone else has left, should enter every room to check and make sure that all appliances are off and unplugged. The same should be repeated when preparing to go to bed.

Only SABS-approved electrical and cooking equipment should be used. Items that can burn uncontrollably, tilt over when being used and may explode when used should be avoided at all costs.

Heaters and two-plate stoves should be used for their intended purposes, as per the owner’s instruction manual. Residents should also avoid leaving candles unattended.

In the event of any emergency, residents are encouraged to call 10177 or 112.


EMS staffPeople can volunteer to become fire fightersWhen liquor is being abused, which is experienced especially in informal settlements although it is also the case in brick and mortar structures, people tend to disregard even the smallest detail with regard to fire safety.

In attempting to warm themselves, they tend to use paraffin heaters, primus stoves and braziers, or mbawulas, only to fall asleep with them on. Often, this leads to fire and their homes are burnt down.

Children should be closely monitored, especially around homes. Fire sources such as heaters, stoves and irons should not be left unattended. Boxes of matches and cigarette lighters should be stored in hard to reach places since children are always ready to experiment.

Houses should be properly ventilated and always have enough fresh air circulating, which will also prevent airborne diseases.

People who would like to learn how to deal with disasters and to help fight fires, are encouraged to become volunteers at their local fire stations. Life skills that are acquired as a result are not only applicable to fire-fighting, but are also useful in other life-saving situations.

Trained volunteers can perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on people who have drowned or inhaled smoke. These volunteers can also train other members of their communities to be life-savers as well.

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