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Fire Safety

Right now in South Africa we are in a drought and this means a high risk of fires!




When my son was a toddler, we used to joke that he would either be the arsonist or the arson investigator, with many close shaves.

As a mother of 4, a nurse for 30 years, first aid instructor and volunteer medic, I have learned a lot about fire hazards and safety.

I have seen burns from cooking on gas (especially during load shedding), I have seen burns from men trying to get that braai to burn better (my father was one of them, though thankfully he healed perfectly), I have seen houses burn to the ground through a simple twist of fate. That said I’ve found that most people are not knowledgeable enough about fire prevention and safety.

Right now in South Africa we are in a drought and this means a high risk of fires!

A fire can destroy a house in minutes or a forest in a matter of hours.  The devastation left behind is something to behold but unlike the forest that burns and then grows stronger and better, or the house that is rebuilt, lives lost to these fires can never be replaced.

There are lot of simple steps that we, as people, can take to minimise the risk and prevent fires from not only spreading but from starting in the first place.

December is the peak season for house fires because of Christmas and Chanukah.

Candle safety:

●     Candles should be in a proper candle holder.  The holder must not be cracked or broken and must stand flat on the surface on which it is placed.

●     Never pass candles from one person to another because one or the other person could drop it.

●     Never place a lit candle near curtains or blinds which could catch fire.

●     Candles that must burn for a long time should be placed in glass containers on a metal tray or in a basin of water.


Braai Safety:

●     Gas and coal fires for cooking  should only burn out doors

●     Your braai should be clear of the house and not under the railings or eaves, or standing on wooden decks

●     Keep your braai clean to prevent old fat from catching fire

●     Don’t allow children and animals to play near the braai

●     If you are using a gas braai, make sure the lid is open before you light it

●     Only use a liquid starter specifically for braais.  Never use petrol or other accelerants

●     Once the fire is started,  do not add charcoal fluid or other flammable liquids


Christmas tree safety:

One in every 3 indoor Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical faults.

●     If you are using a real tree, make sure it is fresh, with green needles that don’t fall off easily

●     For lighting your tree, only use SABS approved lights bought from a reputable store

●     Replace any worn lights, damaged or broken wiring and loose bulbs before lighting

●     TURN off the lights before going to bed!

Electrical Safety:

●     All work must be done by a qualified electrician

●     Houses may not be sold without an electrical compliance certificate

●     Don’t double up on plugs;  that is, one appliance, one plug

●     Circuit breakers must be installed

●     Big appliances must not be plugged in on an extension cord but directly into the wall

●     Make sure your wires and cords are in good condition with no exposed ends

●     Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on your lamp or light fixture

●     Extension cords are for temporary use only

●     Never run an electric cord across a doorway or under carpets


Gas Stoves and Ovens

●     Make sure there are no gas leaks.  Check this regularly.  If you can smell gas, get the appliance serviced immediately

●     Keep a working fire extinguisher nearby and learn how to use it

●     Know how to put out a gas fire 




Besides following these tips for safety, please check that you have the necessary home contents insurance in place and that it is up to date. This will go a long way, protecting you financially in the event of an unexpected accident.

Stay safe

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and do not constitute professional advice. 


Written by Adrienne Bogatie from


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