Focus on wildfires
We’ve all been concentrating too much on the disastrous aspects of the Knysna wildfires but the fact is that a hefty chunk of courageous residents actually managed to successfully save their homes as well as those of their neighbours. A free training session on fire risk reduction will be conducted on 7 and 8 September.
People who lose their home in a fire often describe how helpless they felt as the flames took over their house, leaving them, their loved ones and often their neighbours without shelter and their most precious possessions burned to ashes.
This heartbreaking scene is common in South Africa where unwanted wildfires are a fact of life. And the bad news from the weather experts is that unwanted wildfires will happen more often and fires will burn hotter as changing weather patterns make our environment hotter and drier.
But you don’t have to be a victim of an unwanted fire. You and your neighbours have it in your power to protect your family and your home and to look after the people in your community. As the months dragged on in the wake of the Knysna wildfires, an increasing amount of stories surfaced about how many homeowners actually managed to save their homes by doing a few simple things.
Clean up your garden – or the area surrounding your home – by removing dead branches and leaves and piles of wood that can catch alight away from your home.
If you keep a pile of firewood, stack it well away from the house.
Remove tree branches overhanging your roof and the lower branches of trees and shrubs that can act as a “ladder” up which fire can spread.
Avoid having trees and shrubs growing close to walls, windows and doors. Clean out your gutters.
Check your roof – make sure there are no gaps where wind can blow embers into your home.
These simple, common-sense measures that don’t cost any money at all will set you on the way to becoming better protected from fire during the long, hot, dry summer season ahead.
Maybe while you are making yourself more aware, you will also see other things you can do to reduce the risk of fire, not only on your property but in your neighbourhood, and before long you and your community will no longer be vulnerable to wildfire.
On Friday and Saturday 7 and 8 September, Landworks will be hosting an information-sharing and free training session respectively at the Brenton community hall. Contact Landworks project manager for risk reduction, Tessa Olivier, on 021 712 5223 or 087 311 0452, or email tessa.oliver@ landworksnpc.com to book your place. Visit landworksnpc.com for more details.