As temperatures soar over the interior of the country this week, the risk of runway fires has increased significantly. The South African Weather Service has issued a weather warning for the presence of wild fire conditions in parts of the Limpopo, the North West, Free State and the northern sections of Eastern Cape.
According to Andries Wiese, Manager: Market Intelligence & Marketing, Commercial Lines, Distribution & Rest of Africa at Mutual & Federal, these conditions are caused by a perfect storm of environmental factors: “We are in a high risk time for fires. Following winter there is vast amount of dry biomass especially in the interior of our country. Due to high temperatures, there is low moisture in the air, combined with the increased wind and you have a recipe for disaster. We need to do a lot of prevention and have to be strict about smoking, camp fires and the controlling of making fire breaks.”
Fires can be extremely destructive to both property and life, however, by following these tips you can reduce the risk of starting fires or minimise the damage they can cause.
Here are a few tips to reduce the risk of causing runaway fires:
- Be extremely vigilant
- Do not throw your cigarette butts out of your car window
- Notify the authorities about any and all fire you see
- Do not burn rubbish and garbage in the open
- Do not start camp fires unless authorised
- Avoid burning on dry, windy days or when fire warnings are issued by the National Weather Service
- If you need to burn any garden refuse, burn small piles, gradually adding refuse to the fire as it burn down. Large piles of burning refuse generate intense heat capable of carrying burning embers up and into other areas
- Clear all dry grass and weeds from around your home and out-buildings from the area where you burn refuse and/or fire-breaks
- Always have tools handy while you burn, which include water, hose, rake and a shovel
- Carry out mock fire drills so your entire family is aware of what is required in the event of a fire in your home.
To eliminate potential fires in the home Mutual & Federal advises people to avoid: placing flammable objects near their stoves, overloading their plug points and running extension cords under rugs or beneath curtains. It is also important to keep fire extinguishers in easily accessible places in the home. Test your smoke alarms monthly to ensure they work and have a fire-escape plan in place in the event of a fire in your home or business.
If a fire does break out in your home follow these steps: if there is smoke, stay low and get out of the house, call for help immediately and do not re-enter your home under any circumstances.