Property Tip of the Day 81 Power outages increase fire risk

JOHANNESBURG (May 08) - Open flames from candles or gas stoves pose real fire hazards, especially in households more accustomed to the convenience of electricity.

Consequently, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, homeowners plagued by power cuts should keep the following safety principles in mind:

* Educate all family members about the risks of open flames;

* Never leave burning candles unattended and place candles away from flammable material in case they are accidentally knocked over;

* Take care that all open flames are extinguished before the family retires to bed;

* Make sure that gas cylinders used for cooking and other purposes are in good working order, and don’t store additional cylinders indoors; and

* If you are planning to use a fireplace during winter, make sure the chimney and flue are in good repair and make sure that there is a fireproof area in front of the fireplace to prevent sparks or logs tumbling out of the grate starting a fire.

“However, it must be said that electrical faults are still a major cause of homes fires in SA – when the power is on, of course! It is thus also a good idea to regularly check the state of electrical wiring and make sure that the cords of appliances are in good repair. Replace all frayed cords and never overload plugs.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he also says that for safety’s sake, householders should have a working fire extinguisher on hand and make sure that it is serviced on the due date.

“Families should also work out an emergency fire drill and make sure all members of the household know what to do in the event of a fire.”

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