Did you know that flames only occur after a fire has smouldered for a while, filling a house or dwelling with toxic smoke? And that heat sensors can take up to 30 minutes before they detect the extreme temperatures of a fire? Or that the human body does not rouse from sleep by the smell of smoke? Or that most fatalities from a fire occur because of smoke inhalation and not the fire itself?
The Western Cape Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning conducted research and determined that the majority of fire-related deaths in the Western Cape occur late at night, with most victims being children and the elderly. Smoke alarms can possibly detect invisible smoke within 15 seconds of a fire starting, providing a life-saving early warning system, allowing people enough time to escape.
Smoke alarms are also cost effective, easy to install and are available at most hardware stores. Smoke alarms should ideally be installed close to the bedrooms of the home, so that it can wake people to alert them of the hazard. The alarm should be tested once a month as they are battery operated.
Parents should conduct a simple escape plan at home so that family members know what the alarm sounds like, how to respond to a possible fire (dropping low to the floor and crawling to the exit and contacting the Fire Services for help), making a visual plan that you can put in a central place where it is often seen (such as against the fridge door) with at least two exits and a central assembly point, and also to practice getting out of the house quickly.
Should you see a fire, report it immediately to the Witzenberg Municipality Control Centre on (023) 316 2329 for assistance. Be sure to relay your name, address and exactly what is burning. Businesses can contact Mr Hermie Visser, Manager: Disaster Management and Fire Services, on (023) 316 1854 should they require assistance with conducting a fire drill and staff evacuation. Fire is everyone’s fight!Last published 08 December 2016