If a fire breaks out:
1. Sound the alarm.
2. Call the Emergency Services immediately.
3. Evacuate the building. Only fight the fire if it is safe to do so.
4. Before tackling a fire make sure you know what classification it falls under:
- Class A: Freely burning materials
- Class B: Flammable liquids and gasses
- Class C: Electrical fires
- Class D: Flammable metals
- Vehicle fires
If you are unsure which extinguisher to use, or how to use it, GET OUT.
5. Go to your fire assembly point and report to the person in charge.
Fire Safety at Home
Home fire safety training is not part of this course, but the following information will help raise your level of awareness of the risks where you live, and the measures you can take to improve home fire safety.
The home can be a hazardous area for both adults and children alike. 70% of people killed by fire die in private dwellings, rather than in offices or on business premises.
This statistic clearly underlines the need for safety precautions and preventative measures, normally standard in the business environment, to be employed in the home.
The Fire Certificate stipulates that regular fire drills must be held at work, so that people know what to do and where to go in the event of an outbreak of fire.
There are no such requirements for domestic dwellings, how many families would know what to do, and the evacuation procedure to adopt, if they were faced with an outbreak of fire at home? This should be given serious consideration, particularly as over 70% of fires occur in domestic dwellings in South Africa.
Positive action for fire safety at home
As a first step, draw up an Evacuation Plan for your home. Listed below are some guidelines to help you put your plan together:
- Draw up an evacuation procedure, deciding upon escape routes and ensuring everyone knows the best way out for them.
- Practice evacuation regularly, everyone must know what to do and how to evacuate the building both during the day and at night.
- Make arrangements to help the disabled or young children to safety.
- Agree who will be responsible for calling the Fire Brigade. In case it is impossible to use your own telephone, make sure that everyone knows where the nearest alternative telephone is located.
- Decide who will tackle the fire, only if it is safe to do so.
The following are some further measures it is recommended you should take, to improve fire safety in your home:
- Check for, and eliminate if at all possible, ALL FIRE RISKS. (See the Do’s and Don’ts of fire safety, page12).
- Install SMOKE ALARMS preferably with emergency light, ensuring that they are fitted correctly, also that batteries are replaced regularly, in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. The warning that smoke alarms provide of fire outbreak can be especially important at night.
- Fit a FIRE BLNKET in the kitchen, making certain that it is at least 90cm by 90cm in size. Blankets are life savers, they are very affective for smoldering chip pan firers and wrapping around a person whose clothing is alight.
- Install PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGESHUISHERS in easily accessible positions, on main exit routes. Extinguishers must be serviced annually to SABS 1475 standards and should be manufactured to the relevant SABS specifications. Always remember to use the correct extinguisher for the class of fire, and never use water on electrical fire. (The Fire Brigade and Chubb Fire can recommend suitable types and sizes of extinguishers for your home.)
- Get into the habit of CLOSING ALL DOORS before going to bed, especially downstairs, as this may be your only escape route, and keep the doors of unoccupied rooms shut. An ordinary panel door will hold back flames and heat for about 20 minutes, slowing the spread of the fire.
The Do’s and Don’ts of fire safety at home
Hopefully, you will never have to put your Evacuation Plan into action, and you can significantly reduce the risk of an outbreak of fire occurring in your home by following the advice given below:
- Never fill a chip pan more than one third full, or leave it unattended even while cooling.
- When cooking, do not leave pans unattended.
- Check electrical leads and appliances for wear, and make sure electrical plugs are in good condition.
- Do not overload power points. The general rule is one socket, one plug.
- Ensure electrical appliances are fused correctly. The table below can be used as a guide:
|Max Load||Fuse Rating||Fuse Colour|
If in doubt as to the correct fuse to use check manufacturer’s instructions or with your local electrical retailer.
- Do not leave electrical appliances switched on or plugged in when not in use. Some domestic appliances are designed to work continuously (e.g. – videos and clocks, etc), and these are perfectly safe, if used correctly.
- Ensure electrical blankets are serviced regularly, and when not in use, are stored according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Keep portable heaters away from furniture and furnishings.
- Keep flexes from electrical equipment away from cookers.
- Never smoke in bed.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. You will be surprised at how young an age children know where they are kept.
- Never leave a cigarette on an ashtray where it can fall off.
- Do not leave cigarettes burning.
- Empty ashtrays frequently, always ensuring that all smoking materials have been extinguished.
- Do not hang mirrors over open fireplaces; it encourages people to stand too close.
- Never leave young children at home alone, even for a short time.
If a fire does occur in your home:
1. Tell everyone and get out immediately. Implement your Evacuation Plan.
2. Do not risk injury to fight a fire. IF IN DOUBT, GET OUT.
3. DO NOT STOP to collect personal belongings and valuables.
4. HAVE YOUR LOCAL FIRE BRIGADE NUMBER CLOSE AT HAND FOR IMMEDIATE USE.
5. INFORM NEIGHBOURS if necessary.
7. Wait in a SAFE PLACE.
8. DO NOT ATTEMPT to go back inside until the Fire Brigade says it is safe to do so.
If you are unsure about any aspect of fire safety in the home, you can contact the Fire Brigade for further advice.