Tips on how to keep safe during a fire

BE CAREFUL: A veld fire burns in Stirling. It is important to remember the necessary safety measures to take in the event of a fire Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

Over the past few days, headlines have been dominated by the devastating fire that has torn through Cape Town.

While thankfully no casualties have been reported at the time of writing, the destruction brought about by the fire has been enormous, especially the gutting of the Jagger Reading Room.

BCM is no stranger to fires, with stories of veld and shack fires being a frequent occurrence. Because of this, knowing how to remain safe in such a situation is vital.

“Wildfires spread quickly, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family,” said Old Mutual Insure spokesperson Christelle Colman.

Colman provided a number of important tips to remember in the event that someone finds themselves caught by a fire.

If you are outside, the first thing you should do is cover your nose and mouth with a wet piece of cloth or clothing to help prevent smoke inhalation.

You then need to move somewhere out of the way of the fire. This can be an area without bush or vegetation, or a body of water that you can put between you and the flames.

Alternatively, find a ditch or similar low point on the ground and cover yourself with wet clothing, mud or soil while laying face down.

Don’t forget to also check which way the wind is blowing, since this will influence the direction the fire moves.

As soon as you are able, call emergency services and inform friends and family of your location.

If you are in your home, it is important that you remain calm. Fill all your sinks and bathtubs with water and close windows and doors, but make sure to keep them unlocked.

Move your furniture, curtains and other flammable material away from the windows and doors and, if possible, use a hose to wet the walls and outside grounds.

Make sure to keep away from flammable material such as gas.

If you are in your car, try to drive as far away from vegetation as possible, for example a clearing or parking lot. Close your windows and air vents to prevent smoke from entering and lie on the floor of your car, covering yourself clothing or a blanket.

Once you are sure you are safe, contact emergency services for help.

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