The threat of house fires in South Africa was recently best highlighted by Patrick Kulati, Chief Executive Officer, Household Energy Safety Association of South Africa (HESASA). We would like to quote:
“Burns are among the most devastating of all injuries, with outcomes spanning the spectrum from physical impairments and disfigurement, to emotional and mental consequences. Even though injury due to burns is largely preventable, Africa carries an extraordinary burden of fire-related injuries. It is estimated that over a million patients are burned annually on the African continent, with 18 per cent of hospital admissions and six to ten per cent of mortality being burn-related.
In South Africa, a Medical Research Council report estimates that each year 3.2 per cent (1 600 000) of the country’s population will suffer from burn injuries, with the vast majority being from poorer communities. This high incidence is driven by negative impact factors including the influx of people to urban areas, haphazard urban development, overcrowding, inadequate electrification of homes in low-income communities, paraffin and bio-mass fuels used as the primary energy sources, and lack of effective preventative and education programmes.
House Fires as a threat to the Safety of Children
Young children are particularly vulnerable, with death as a result of burn injuries claiming approximately 1 300 young lives each year. This concentration of burn mortality and injury among infants and toddlers occurs more frequently among very young black children below the age of three. Incidents of burn injury thereafter decrease until adolescence when burn mortality rates start to increase once older children become exposed to a wider range of high-risk activities such as cooking and lighting fires for morning and evening meals - both of which are activities common for older children in low-income settings.
Older children also spend an increasing amount of time with other children, older siblings and adults outside the home. This widening social network exposes them to risks posed by open fires initiated for heating and cooking and managing heating appliances and heated appliances or utensils."
What can we do to protect ourselves and to prevent fires at home?
Accidental fires are just that – an accident. There are, however, several ways to prevent a fire starting accidentally in your home or business. It starts with having the knowledge of possible causes of fires and being aware of seemingly harmless objects in your home or business that could ignite and lead to a fire.
It is not to say that every aspect of the home/business is a potential fire hazard, but it is advised to maintain a high index of suspicion when it comes to any form of electrical appliance, gas and open heat source being used.
Sources of Fire: What are causing these fires?
The most probable sources of a potential fire inside the home could come from any of the following, but is not limited to these few that are mentioned:
Frayed electrical wires on appliances
Cigarette/cigar/tobacco pipe embers
Gas leaks followed by a spark igniting
Children playing with matches
Burning oil on a stovetop
Most of these though would need to be accelerated by another source, for example, a roll of toilet tissue near a heater grill may ignite and start a fire. It is therefore very important to keep the area around any of these potential fire hazards mentioned above clear. Don’t leave any heater/heated appliance or open-flame burning while you leave the room.
Synthetic materials are widely used in household furniture. This material is highly flammable and will burn quickly once set alight. Keep open flames or embers away from foam matrasses, stuffed couches, curtains and carpets. These usually also cover a wide surface area and will be the cause of other maybe less-flammable objects to catch alight.
Article Author: https://www.arrivealive.mobi/safety-from-fire-at-our-homes