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Here are some safety tips for you:

SMOKE DETECTORS

Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths.

  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Test every detector at least once a month.
  • Keep smoke detectors dust free. Replace batteries with new ones at least once a year, or sooner if the detector makes a chirping sound.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

They remain your best bet if you’re on the spot when a fire begins.

  • Fire extinguishers should be mounted in the kitchen, garage, and workshop.
  • Purchase an ABC type extinguisher for extinguishing all types of fires.
  • Learn how to use your fire extinguisher before there is an emergency.
  • Remember, use an extinguisher on small fires only. If there is a large fire, get out immediately and call the fire brigade from another location.

THINKING AHEAD: Your Exit Plan

As with other things, the best motto is, “Be Prepared.”

  • Prepare a floor plan of your home showing at least two ways out of each room.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. In the event of fire, it helps to hold back heat and smoke. But if a door feels hot, do not open it; escape through another door or window.
  • Agree on a fixed location out-of-doors where family members are to gather for a head count.
  • Stay together away from the fire. Make certain that no one goes back inside the burning building.
  • Check corridors and stairways to make sure they are free of obstructions and combustibles.

FIREPLACE

Remember, you’re deliberately bringing fire into your home; respect it.

  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from flying.
  • Don’t store newspapers, wood or matches near the fireplace or have an exposed rug or wooden floor right in front of the fireplace.
  • When lighting a gas fireplace, strike your match first, then turn on the gas.

SMOKING

If you actually believe that you’re immune from cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other ills, at least worry about burning to death.

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Don’t smoke when you are drinking or are abnormally tired.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays, and empty them frequently.
  • Never dump an ashtray into the trash without wetting the butts and ashes first.

HEATERS

Used improperly, a heater can be the most dangerous appliance in your house.

  • Install and maintain heating equipment correctly. .
  • Don’t store newspapers, rags, or other combustible materials near a heater.
  • Don’t leave heaters operating when you’re not in the room.
  • Keep heaters at least three feet away from anything that might burn, including the wall.
  • Don’t use extension cords with electrical space heaters. The high amount of current they require could melt the cord and start a fire.
  • When lighting a gas heater, strike your match first, then turn on the gas.

ELECTRICAL HAZARDS

Electricity, the silent servant, can become a silent assassin.

  • It is better not to use extension cords. If you feel you must use one, make sure that it is not frayed or worn. Do not run it under a rug or twist it around a nail or hook.
  • Never overload a socket. In particular, the use outlet extensions that accommodate several plugs, is strongly discouraged.
  • Check periodically for loose wall receptacles, loose wires, or loose lighting fixtures. Sparking means that you’ve waited too long.
  • Allow air space around the TV to prevent overheating. The same applies to plug-in radios and stereo sets, and to powerful lamps.
  • If a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows frequently, immediately cut down on the number of appliances on that line.
  • Be sure all electrical equipment bears the SABS label.
  • In many older homes, the capacity of the wiring system has not kept pace with today’s modern appliances. Overloaded electrical systems invite fire. Watch for these overload signals: dimming lights when an appliance goes on, a shrinking TV picture, slow heating appliances, or fuses blowing frequently. Call a qualified electrician to get expert help.

KITCHEN

Careless cooking is the number one cause of residential fires. Never leave cooking unattended.

  • It’s wise to have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. Keep it 3 meters away from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire; turn off the stove and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
  • Keep pot handles on the stove pointing to the back, and always watch young children in the kitchen.
  • Don’t store items on the stove top, as they could catch fire.
  • Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off and disconnect them when not in use.
  • Don’t overload kitchen electrical outlets and don’t use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
  • Be sure your stove is not located under a window in which curtains are hanging.
  • Clean the exhaust hood and duct over the stove regularly. and wipe up spilled grease as soon as the surface of the stove is cool.
  • Operate your microwave only when there is food in it.

CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN

  • Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave children unattended with fire or heaters.
  • Children are naturally curious about fire, so keep an eye on them. But if a child repeatedly plays with fire or seems to have a morbid fascination with fire, seek professional help at once.
  • If youngsters live with you or stay overnight occasionally, be sure that they know how to escape from every room and are part of your emergency exit plan.

PETROL AND OTHER FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

  • Flammable liquids should be stored only in approved safety containers, and the containers should be kept outside the house and garage in a separate storage shed.
  • Fill up lawn equipment outside, away from enclosed areas and any source of sparks or heat.
  • Start the equipment at least 3 meters from where you filled it with fuel.
  • Don’t fill a hot lawn mower, let it cool first.
  • Never clean floors or do other general cleaning with petrol or flammable liquids.

Planning Escape Routes

Everyone should know how to escape if there is a fire in their home. By following some simple safety tips, you can create a home escape plan that’s right for you.

Plan

  • Draw a home escape plan that shows two ways out of every room.
  • Make sure windows and doors can be unlocked and opened quickly.
  • Bars on windows must have a quick release device, opening from the inside.
  • Have a special meeting place in front of your house or apartment where the family will meet.

Prepare

If you live in a building with more than one level, have escape ladders for the upstairs rooms.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level and in all bedrooms — test them once a month and change the battery each year.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed.
  • Count all family members at your meeting place.
  • If someone is missing, tell the firefighters where that person may be. NEVER go back inside.

Escaping from fire

  • If a fire breaks out in your home, remember the following tips:
  • Check the door with the back of your hand — if you feel heat, use your second exit.
  • If there is smoke, crawl on your hands and knees to the nearest exit.
  • Teach children how to get out of the house.
  • Call the fire brigade from a neighbor’s house.
  • Remember: NEVER go back into a burning house.

If you are trapped in a room:

  • Stay low near the door or window.
  • Put blankets, rugs, or pillows at the bottom of the door to keep out smoke.
  • Signal out the window with a sheet, towel or torch.