Prevent Fires in Informal Settlements

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As temperatures drop, many people in informal settlements keep warm with gas heaters, braziers, paraffin stoves as well as use candles for light. These can also cause fires that can spread rapidly.

Fires in informal settlements are mostly caused by an open flame sources and overloaded illegal electrical connections.

Because shacks are so close to each other, when there is a fire it spreads quickly and can result in many of them being burned to the ground resulting in possible death, serious injuries and destruction of property.

How to prevent fires in an informal settlement

  • Build dwellings a good distance (at least three metres) apart from each other to prevent firesfrom spreading rapidly. The open space between dwellings must be kept clean. 
  • Keeproads and access to dwellings clear at all times so that emergency vehicles have unobstructed access.
  • Do not block roads with possessions when there is a fire.

How to stop a shack fire

  • Keep a bucket filled with water on hand so that you can extinguish flames easily.
  • Build dwellings a good distance (at least three metres) apart to prevent firesfrom spreading.
  • Keep a close eye on paraffin stoves; do not cook near a window that has a curtain.
  • Make sure the stove does not fall over, which may burn children or cause a fire.
  • Make sure candles are secure and cannot fall over. Do not go to sleep with candles still burning.
  • Teach children about the dangers of fire.
  • Be aware of the dangers of illegal and faulty electricity connections, which also cause fires.
  • Keep a bucket of sand to put out paraffin fires.
  • Do not block roads when there is a fire.
  • Do not prevent or disrupt the work of fire fighters during a fire incident.

Fighting fires

  • Always call for the Life Threatening Emergency number before you attempt to fight a fire yourself.
  • If your clothing catches fire: stop, do the stop, drop and roll procedure: Stop where you are, drop to the floor and roll around on the floor. This will smother the flames and save your life.
  • If another person catches fire, smother the flames by wrapping them in a blanket, carpet, or rug.

Using electricity safely:

  • Do not overload your electrical circuits – in other words, do not keep more than four plugs on one extension.
  • Service your electrical components regularly and replace faulty ones.
  • Switch off all electrical appliances at the wall at night or when leaving your home.
  • When you are cooking (on any sort of stove), do not leave the pot on the stove unless you are keeping an eye on it.

City of Ekurhuleni Emergency Fire and Rescue Services: -

  • 011 458 0911 : Life Threatening Ekurhuleni Emergency Line
  • 10177 : National Toll-Free Number
  • 112: Cellphone

For medical and trauma patient care:

  • Call Gauteng Ambulance Services on 011564 2210/11

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