A dry spell that accompanies strong winds and very low temperatures means an increase in structural fires and massive veld fires.
While fires are a danger on their own, they mean a host of challenges for drivers when they occur near major roads and national freeways.
In the past years, the City had to service vehicle pile-ups on freeways and major roads where lives were lost because of veld fires. Winter is now in its last month, as per calendar season, and springs is just around the corner. With it come strong winds and any small open flame or heat on the dry vegetation has a potential to spread the fire.
With the spread of fire comes heavy dense smoke along major roads and freeways that reduces visibility. In such cases, drivers should immediately reduce their speed and exercise extreme caution.
Some obvious causes of veld fires along roadways are lit cigarette butts thrown out of windows by motorists and passengers alike while broken glass bottles can become magnifying glasses with the sun's rays and cause a spark. Fires are not only a threat to human but also to animal life as well as the environment.
While driving and visibility becomes very poor, don't attempt to drive through thick smoke or flames as this increases the chances of accidents. Due to poor visibility motorist may either run off the road, collide with stationary obstacles such as vehicles or via head-on-collisions with other vehicles attempting to drive through from the opposite direction.
Secondary to freezing cold weather conditions, as expected in this week, the following can assist in averting accident deaths. Just recently, lives were lost around the City due to incidents of toxic gas inhalation. It is still a common practice for people going to bed with lit Braziers, lit coal stoves, lit fire places, braai stands or even electrical stove still on. When blankets fall on top of the stove, will catch alight and produce toxic gases such as Carbon monoxide and Hydrogen Cyanide. Inhalation of such gases causes suffocation and ultimately death.
Many domestic fires are caused by electrical wiring that short circuit and illegal connections. Heaters are still placed near combustible material and left unmonitored - which is an unsafe practice. Unattended air conditioners running throughout the night domestically, or at the office, causes unnecessary fires. All heating sources should be switched off in the absence of adults.
Children playing with matches and lighters are a major source of house fires.
In case of emergency, contact the Ekurhuleni Emergency Services:
- 10177 : National Toll Free Number
- 112 : Cell Phone
- (011) 458- 0911 : Life Threatening Ekurhuleni Emergency Line