Entering through a long cold tunnel of freezing temperatures is always challenging more over those who are economically disadvantaged. it`s only much easier when the light at the end is visible.

Preparations are always better when anticipated challenges such as cold freezing temperatures are looming, moreover informal settlement dwellers. Three-meter social distancing amongst the constructed shacks should be adhered to. If not, the entire informal settlement is subjected to a catastrophic end.

Knowing fire safety practices, can carry us safely through this icy-cold season. Stay home, stay indoors and always put safety practices as a priority. These will keep everyone safe from devastating winter fires and mainly from covid-19 infections as well.     

Most fires are caused by lack of thought, concentration or carelessness. Cigarettes, lighters, matches, candles, illegal electrical connections and over loading of circuits, heating appliances such as paraffin stoves, braziers and equipment such as power generators, liquified gas appliances, all can be lethal if not properly monitored. 

Here are some safety tips to prevent shack fires: Ask yourself a question; How far is your neighbour`s structure from yours? If is less than three metres away, it is too close! In case of fire, the blaze can spread entirely with ease.

Tips to follow: The DO and DON`T

1. Keep a close eye on paraffin stoves. Don’t cook near a window with curtains.

2. Make sure the stove does not fall over, which may cause a fire and burn children.

3. Make sure candles cannot fall over. Don’t go to sleep with candles still burning.

4. Never ever put Braziers or Coal Braai-stands inside your home, if so, keep the door and windows opened to avert carbon monoxide poisoning.

5.  Stay and keep combustibles at least a meter away from the heat source.

6. Smoking in bed is dangerous! Never smoke in bed!

7. Watch out for discarded cigarette butts.

8. Be aware of the dangers of illegal and faulty electricity connections, which also cause fires.

9. Refill the electrical power generator, paraffin stove or lamps while still cold before use. 

10. Keep separate buckets handy filled with water and sand, so that you can extinguish different flames easily.

11. Call LOCAL Emergency Services Firefighters as soon as possible on (011) 458 0911, 10177 or 112.

In case your clothes catch fire, do not run, better “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. An instinct will drive one to run but unfortunately, the more you run, the further the flame is aggravated.  

In case of someone burns, cover him/her with a blanket, this will prevent flame sustainability and leads to fire extinguishment.  

City of Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services Department (DEMS) is ready as ever in this difficult time of covid-19 pandemic and winter season. Stay home, stay indoors and together we can achieve to save lives and properties.  

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