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Winter season and fire safety: how to stay warm and safe

Fidelity Services share fire safety tips to prepare for the winter.

Fires can be disastrous if not dealt with quickly. In a fire emergency, every second counts and getting the fire department to the property as soon as possible is crucial.

“The winter season generally sees an increase in the number of fires that are reported as people try to keep the cold weather at bay. A fire at your home can happen when you least expect it and that is why it is good to have measures in place to avoid excessive damage or loss,” says Charnel Hattingh, group head of communications and marketing at the Fidelity Services Group.

The company has put together a fire safety checklist to help identify any vulnerable spaces in residences.

“To ensure your home is safe from fire hazards use the below fire prevention checklist to ensure your loved ones and your home are safe,” says Hattingh.

• Smoke detectors are an excellent idea to install around your home and where you have an accumulation of electronic equipment that needs recharging.

• Ideally one should have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and garage. It is also useful to consider adding a fire blanket with the fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

• Ensure all electrical cords and plugs are in good condition without frays or damage; electrical outlets should not be overloaded with too many plugs.

• Heaters should be placed at least 1 meter away from flammable materials, like curtains, furniture, or bedding and if you have a fireplace, the chimney and vents are cleaned and inspected annually. If any heating appliances (and this includes hair curlers or other such devices) were switched on when load shedding started, please switch them off to avoid any unattended devices catching fire when the power comes back later.

• Stoves and ovens should be free from grease buildup and all flammable items like dish towels.

• Ensure candles are placed on sturdy holders and kept far away from curtains, bedding, and other flammable materials. They should be extinguished before bed.

“In the event of a fire, ensure you and your family have an escape plan. You should have at least two ways to exit a room in your home in case of a fire and ensure there is a safety door. The keys to the door should be placed at a predetermined centralised spot. Store any important documentation and emergency contacts in a fireproof safe,” says Hattingh.

Lastly, she warns that dealing with lithium-ion battery fires can be particularly dangerous. Lithium-ion batteries have proven to be very well-suited for inverters because of their long life and high voltage, but such a fire cannot be contained by water or other traditional measures.

“Lithium-ion fires don’t burn cleanly and can vent toxic gases into the surrounding area. If you have installed an inverter at home, we ask that you investigate whether your fire protection measures are adequate and whether they are suitable for lithium fires.

“Importantly these require a lithium fire extinguisher which should be placed close to your inverter or your battery bank,” she says.

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