Make sure your home is as safe as ... houses

Go! & Express - - GO! IN KING - MATTHEW FIELD

Is your home safe?

It’s a ques­tion that many take for granted. A lot of thought is given to fit­ting bur­glar bars and erect­ing high walls but, some­times, the great­est threat can come from within.

This is es­pe­cially true in a place like East Lon­don, which is no stranger to dry fire-friendly berg winds. On such days, a poorly de­signed build­ing can pose a dan­ger.

Po­ten­tial fires aside, there’s also a se­ri­ous dan­ger that of­ten goes un­no­ticed – swim­ming pools. There are many tragic sto­ries of chil­dren or in­tox­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als fall­ing into a pool and never get­ting out again.

Thank­fully, the gov­ern­ment has a strict list of reg­u­la­tions that all build­ings must abide by which are all listed un­der the Na­tional Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions and Build­ing Stan­dards Act of 1977, last amended in 2008. The act is read­ily avail­able on­line. Along with the act, there is also South African Na­tional Stan­dard (SANS) 10400 which ex­plains how to ap­ply the var­i­ous reg­u­la­tions. This too can be found on­line.

While some of the reg­u­la­tions may not nec­es­sar­ily ap­ply to your av­er­age home-owner, they’re still worth tak­ing a look at as a handy guide­line for how to bet­ter safe­guard your prop­erty.

The reg­u­la­tions are ex­ten­sive but for now, we’ll fo­cus on two key ones: as the ti­tle says, deals with things that would af­fect the gen­eral pub­lic. If you have a swim­ming pool, you are re­quired to fence it off in such a way that, says the SANS, “no per­son can have ac­cess to such pool from any street or pub­lic place or any ad­join­ing site other than through”.

If your house has an ex­te­rior wall sur­round­ing your prop­erty, then you’re cov­ered. How­ever, if you have chil­dren, then con­sider build­ing a sec­ondary fence around your pool (or at least cov­er­ing it with a net or cover when not in use).

Fire pro­tec­tion is mostly aimed at busi­nesses and res­i­dences which house more than 25 peo­ple. How­ever, there are some reg­u­la­tions which ap­ply to every­one. For ex­am­ple, ev­ery build­ing is re­quired to have some form of es­cape route and that es­cape route should be kept clear of ob­sta­cles. En­sure for ex­am­ple, your pas­sage lead­ing to your front or back door is free of clut­ter so that in an emer­gency, you won’t run the risk of trip­ping and po­ten­tially in­jur­ing your­self.

While Part T does man­date the in­stal­la­tion of fire alarms, this doesn’t ex­tend to pri­vate homes. Still, it couldn’t hurt to in­vest in one any­way.

A qual­ity smoke de­tec­tor will prob­a­bly set you back some­where be­tween R300 – R500 which is a small price to pay for your peace of mind. It might also be a good idea to have a fire ex­tin­guisher on hand for emer­gen­cies. Your av­er­age home won’t need much more than a 1kg ex­tin­guisher which can be found for about R150 – R300.

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