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