How to sur­vive win­ter dangers

Fire preven­tion is bet­ter than cure, writes Chris­telle Fourie

Business Day - Home Front - - HOME FRONT -

WITH win­ter just around the cor­ner, fires in the home tend to in­crease this time of year as peo­ple use the fire­place or elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances such as heaters and elec­tric blan­kets for the first time in months to keep warm. In light of this it is im­por­tant to take pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures to help avoid the risk of res­i­den­tial fires.

Fire is one of the most dev­as­tat­ing causes of loss or dam­age to a home, as not only can it de­stroy a home in a mat­ter of min­utes but the re­sul­tant has­sle of hav­ing to live in a tem­po­rary res­i­dence while struc­tural dam­age is re­paired can be both frus­trat­ing and costly if a sound in­sur­ance pol­icy is not in place.

Most peo­ple do not re­alise that they may have many fire risks in their home. Leigh-Ann Botha of Fire-Fox — an en­ter­prise spe­cial­is­ing in disas­ter re­cov­ery, restora­tion and de­con­tam­i­na­tion so­lu­tions syn­ony­mous with fires and floods — pro­vides some use­ful tips for home­own­ers. Elec­tric blan­kets Many home­own­ers are un­aware of the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion that oc­curs to the wiring in elec­tric blan­kets due to the heat­ing and cool­ing process, as well as stor­age when they are folded and packed away dur­ing the sum­mer months. This can re­sult in frac­tures in the wiring and present an ex­treme fire risk when it comes into con­tact with the fab­ric of the blan­ket. An­other com­mon fault is over­load­ing the bed with ex­tra pil­lows or blan­kets to speed heat­ing. This is danger­ous as it can cause the blan­ket to over­heat and catch alight.

It is best for peo­ple to turn the blan­ket off when they are sleep­ing to avoid over­heat­ing, and to store the elec­tric blan­ket in an open po­si­tion, such as in be­tween the mat­tress and bed base dur­ing sum­mer, rather than fold­ing it away. Over­loaded plug points With the num­ber of elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances in the home in­creas­ing — think lap­tops, iPads, cof­fee ma­chines, game con­soles — typ­i­cally there are not enough plug points for all ap­pli­ances, re­sult­ing in many peo­ple us­ing mul­ti­plug adap­tors, some­times to­gether with ad­di­tional plug adap­tors for two-prong power points. This elec­tri­cal “nest” is a com­mon causes of do­mes­tic fires.

To avoid th­ese fires, home­own­ers should rather use a mul­ti­plug adap­tor that has in­di­vid­ual plug iso­la­tors, or one with a trip switch. How­ever, the best so­lu­tion would be to get a rep­utable elec­tri­cian to as­sess the home’s cur­rent wiring sys­tem and ad­vise on the pos­si­bil­ity of in­stalling ad­di­tional points if nec­es­sary. Standby mode for elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances Many home­own­ers do not re­alise that an elec­tri­cal cur­rent is still flow­ing to ap­pli­ances in standby mode. This presents a fire risk in the event of a power surge oc­cur­ring that causes dam­age to the trans­form­ers. In­stead of leav­ing ap­pli­ances in standby mode it is bet­ter to switch off the de­vice, us­ing the on/off but­ton at the unit it­self to mit­i­gate the risk of th­ese types of fires. How­ever, it is im­por­tant to note that switch­ing a tele­vi­sion on and off di­rectly at the plug point could dam­age the trans­form­ers and could dis­tort the pic­ture colour or clar­ity. Elec­tri­cal in­sect re­pel­lents and room de­odoris­ers Be­cause plug-in bug re­pel­lents or room de­odoris­ers can be an eye­sore they are of­ten plugged into out-of-site points and for­got­ten. Un­for­tu­nately this presents a po­ten­tial fire risk should the liq­uid run out, as it can cause the de­vice to over­heat and melt into the plug point. Al­ways plug th­ese de­vices into vis­i­ble ar­eas and un­plug them when not needed.

By check­ing for th­ese sce­nar­ios home-own­ers can not only mit­i­gate against the risk of phys­i­cal harm to them­selves and oc­cu­pants, but also the fi­nan­cial and emo­tional strain of a res­i­den­tial fire and a huge in­sur­ance claim.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.