Several fires have been causing destruction across South Africa in the past week. Hundreds of families were left homeless and salvaging their belongings after a fire in the Gazine Informal Settlement near the Kwa Mai Mai market in Johannesburg caught fire. At least 9 people were killed in the fire.
More recently the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital made headlines as 0ver 700 people were evacuated from the building. The most recent fire is still raging in Cape Town. It has destroyed several buildings and parts of the University of Cape Town. Today, 4 firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.
With winter fast approaching, it is important to be aware of the dangers of runaway fires. Informal settlements often fall victim to fires, mostly caused by burning candles or paraffin lamps, or heaters. As the winter season approaches, informal settlements fall victim to fires because of candles and heating devices.
Our City was befell by a sad situation early this morning whereby a fire broke out near Kwa Mai Mai, damaging 98 units and leaving plenty of families homeless. Sadly there were 9 fatalities including an elderly person#WeServeJoburg pic.twitter.com/mKwdDE9OHy
— Geoff Makhubo (@GeoffMakhubo) April 14, 2021
Uncontrolled wildfires spread quickly, especially on very hot and dry, windy days. If you do become trapped in your vehicle, car, or outside during a forest fire, you need to know how you can protect yourself.
• If you’re outside, hiking, or elsewhere, and realise you may be in danger, cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth or piece of clothing.
• If you are unsure of which way to run and can’t tell where the fire is coming from, try to find an area without any bush or vegetation or plants.
• If you know of a body of water nearby, get to it so that you can put it between yourself and the fire.
• Alternatively you can find a ditch or a low spot on the ground; keep low by lying face down and covering your body with things like wet clothing, soil, or mud.
• Call for emergency services immediately and inform your friends and family where you are by sending them a pin location.
• GET OUT AND STAY OUT.
• Shout “FIRE!” several times and go outside right away. Call emergency services. If you live in a building with elevators, ALWAYS use the stairs. Leave all your belongings where they are and save your own life, it is more important.
• If closed doors or handles are warm to the touch or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open any doors that are warm to the touch.
• After the evacuation, meet the rest of the family members in a pre-determined location and remain there until everyone in the household is safely outside or rescued.
IF THE AREA AROUND YOU IS ON FIRE:
• Fill all sinks, bathtubs, and other large containers with cold water.
• Keep doors and windows closed, but do NOT lock them.
• Move furniture and curtains away from the windows and doors.
• If you can manage to do it safely, use a garden hose or sprinkler (or turn on your irrigation system) to wet the walls of your house and the outside grounds.
• Stay as far away as possible from flammable items.
IN THE CAR:
• Drive to a place as far away from foliage and other flammable materials as possible.
• Find an open clearing to park in.
• Close your windows and air vents because to avoid smoke getting into your vehicle
• Lie on the floor of your car, cover yourself with clothing or a blanket and call emergency services.
• Let your loved ones know where you are by sending a pin location.
In life-threatening situations, it’s important to protect yourself. Your life is always more important than possessions.