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Fire season in South Africa – stay safe

Fire season in South Africa – stay safe
08-12-23 / Shelly Nxumalo

Fire season in South Africa – stay safe

Cape Town - While December to April is usually fire season in the Western Cape, heat waves are also currently being experienced in both Gauteng, the North-West and the Free State – which may increase the risk of fires.

This is according to Marius Steyn, Broker Solutions: Risk Manager at South Africa's largest insurer Santam, who says that globally, climate change is raising serious questions about the sustainability of fire and flood covers. "In California people can no longer buy fire cover for their homes. Locally, our latest Santam Insurance Barometer Report revealed that 79% of commercial and corporate respondents admitted concerns about extreme weather," says Steyn.

Environmental factors such as changing weather patterns and urban spread increase the risk of fires with the effects and level of damage often being felt more severely, explains Steyn. "The South-Easter wind coupled with high temperatures make ideal conditions for wildfires to run rampant."

To this end, Steyn says that Santam is a private sector partner of Working on Fire, which also works to address the causes of runaway fires in South Africa and to help communities to manage fire and to extinguish small fires before they become devastating, all-engulfing blazes. "Santam works with Working on Fire to lobby municipalities for safer building regulations, to educate communities on fire hazards and to better understand the specific fire risks of particular industries, communities and regions in South Africa."

But he says that although extreme weather is a contributing factor to frequency and severity of fires, almost 99% of all fires are caused by human negligence: "They are mostly caused by electrical faults or carelessness. Cigarettes, matches and lighters, candles, heating appliances and open braai fires can all cause fires if not carefully monitored."

To prevent the loss of lives and property, Steyn says that everyone needs to be aware of the danger of fire during this season – and throughout the year. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Always extinguish fires and safely dispose of hot ash, coal and cigarettes
  • Always work in an open, cleared area when working with power tools
  • Ensure that your electrical appliances are correctly wired
  • Keep the area around your home clear of flammable materials
  • Only burn rubbish on cooler, wind-still days, provided you have a burning permit
  • Never leave an open fire unattended
  • Only use fireworks and Chinese lanterns far from areas prone to fire
  • Register with the Fire Protection Association for enhanced security - failure to do so will have a court automatically assume you are guilty of negligence in the event of a liability lawsuit

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