South Africa’s regular power cuts are forcing homes to seek alternative heating and lighting solutions that can be dangerous fire hazards if operated and stored poorly. As we mark Fire Prevention Day on 9 October 2023, Brights Hardware is calling on the public to become aware and conscious of the fire hazards and risks around them.
At the same time, this summer is expected to be a sizzling one, and South Africans will do what South Africans do best, take to the outdoors and braai! While winter poses the risks of fire by way of heating appliances, and load-shedding by way of increased candle, gas appliance and generator use, summer also warrants several safety measures that could help families prevent fires in their homes.
Brights Hardware CEO Orlando Luis says there are a few simple and effective tools and solutions for all of us to remedy the hazards we so often overlook. “One of the most seemingly obvious solutions to dealing with fire hazards is to invest in a fire extinguisher as a first step, it is your first line of defence,” he says.
First line of defence
Luis advises that getting that first fire extinguisher is an important step but servicing and maintaining it is even more important. Here are a few steps to ensuring that your fire extinguisher works in the event of a fire:
- check your extinguisher for recognised approval from a standards body
- ensure that it is mounted correctly and securely
- check pressure regularly
- check for nozzle obstructions like corrosion, dents and cracks
- service your extinguisher regularly
Another useful item to keep around in the event of a fire is a fire blanket. Fire blankets are effective in smothering flames on a burn victim but their main uses are for putting out kitchen and oil fires.
It is also a good idea to install smoke alarms in your home and test them regularly to make sure they are working and not in need of fresh batteries. Smoke alarms are easy to install as they do not require electricity and inexpensive to maintain.
Gas and Safety
The frequency of load-shedding is pushing consumers to find more reliable sources of heating and cooking, making gas a favourite alternative. Despite concerns over hazards associated with gas, it is one form of fuel that is highly regulated and recognised hardware stores like Brights take extra care to stock up on tried and tested cylinders to ensure optimum safety during and after use. It is important to remember that when gas is stored or used incorrectly it can be extremely dangerous. This is why it is critical to take certain steps to keep you and your family or business safe. Most gas cylinders have Standard Operating Procedures which are particularly important to safeguard the end user.
Tips for working with gas:
- always keep the space ventilated when using gas
- keep objects away from the flame
- do not use aerosols near the flame
- avoid wearing flammable clothing
- get familiar with the directions for opening and closing the gas canister/cylinder
- after usage, ensure to close the nozzle as tight as possible to avoid leaking or replace the safety cap
- always store the canisters/cylinders in an upright position
In the event of an explosion or fire:
- use an extinguisher and do not use any electrical appliances
- close the safety nozzle as soon as it is safe to do so
- ventilate the room
- depending on the severity of the fire, it is always best not to leave flames unattended and equally important to keep a fire extinguisher in the room where the gas cylinder is in use
- call emergency services if the fire is uncontrollable
Making your summer braai safer
There is no doubt that South Africans know how to make a sizzling steak on hot coals or gas grills. As the summer settles in and the outdoors becomes more attractive for bonding with loved ones, there are several measures you can take for an accident-free day in the sun.
For one, start with the basics like having a fire extinguisher and fire blanket on hand. “Another important safety measure is to avoid using highly flammable fuels to kickstart a wood or coal fire. Use safe firelighters instead. For gas braai’s and grills, the same rules above apply for both kitchen and outdoor gas fittings,” says Luis.
“Also, never leave your braai unattended, particularly if it is windy, and if there are children with you. Make sure that you fully extinguish your braai fire when you have finished cooking and that any remaining coals are fully cool before you walk away.”
General Fire Prevention Tips
In addition to the above, Luis advises that there are some other tips to consider in your home to prevent a possible fire:
- Do not plug too many appliances into an electrical outlet.
- Make sure that combustibles are not too close to stoves and fireplaces.
- Make sure you have a professional install your gas appliances so that they meet safety standards.
- Never smoke in bed or on soft furniture.
- Do not use damaged double adapters or appliances with damaged plugs and/or frayed electrical cords. Do not use frayed or damaged extension cords.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children and teach your children about the dangers of playing with fire.
- Never leave candles unattended in a room.
- Be careful to have glass ornaments and vases on windowsills that receive lots of sunshine – they can act like a magnifying glass.
- Don’t leave laptops plugged in on top of soft furnishings like beds or couches.
- Have an Emergency Escape Plan in place in the event of a fire.
“Brights Hardware stores have on-site experts in all of our branches to assist with further advice on any fire prevention products as well as advice on fire safety when it comes to load-shedding appliances and gadgets,” concludes Luis.
For more visit: www.brights.co.za