Keep fires at bay – Fire safety 101 for SA travellers

2016-01-15 15:08 - Sam Smith
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Cape Town - When fires are accompanied with the brutal summer weather they have the power to destroy beautiful landscapes, defenseless animals and the homes of many.

This is what South Africa is currently experiencing. 

Summer is 'fire season' in the Western Cape and any small uncontrolled fire can grow into a life-threatening factor, explains CapeNature reserves.

PICS: Free State sandstorm will literally scratch at your eyes

Fires are likely to start between December to April, the time when travellers are spending most of their holiday time braaing and camping in nature reserves across South Africa. 

If you find yourself within a nature reserve or are travelling during a high fire danger warning - there are ways in which you can prevent fires from occurring, protect your family members, escape harm, put out a camp fire or contact the nearest rescue services for help.

READ: 5 Places to cool down in and around Pretoria

Western Cape Government explains that 'Fire is EVERYONE'S fight' and being properly prepared could save your life and South Africa's precious land.

Check this out...

How to prevent fires:

To stop fires from starting or spreading - never leave open fires unattended and always kill the fire with sand

Never use illegal electrical connections and do not overload your multiplugs. 

Clear the grounds around your home of fire starting materials

Do not play with matches or lighters

READ: What to know about snakes in SA this dry, summer holiday

Keep emergency numbers in an easy to reach place.

If you do not have water to put out a fire, CapeNature explains that "A fire needs heat, oxygen and fuel to survive. Without 1 of these elements the fire will die." Other sorts of extinguishers such as sand or a wet blanket will also work. 

When a fire on your kitchen stove occurs - place a pot lid on top of it. 

If an electrical fire has started, use sand or a fire extinguisher. 

How to escape:

In the event of your clothes catching on fire - stop what you are doing, drop to the ground and roll.

Once on the ground, cover your face and your eyes from the smoke and roll from your back to your stomach until your clothes are doused. 

Fires and the whole family, always be sure to: 

Have a fire extinguisher nearby. Keep your garden hose in a working and untangled manner and try to have more than one exit to your house. It will be of great help to discuss a safety plan of action with your household and keep valuables like passports and ID documents as well as animal leads, cat cages and collars nearby.

READ: Public urged to report illegal poaching in Cape's nature reserves

Travellers should never park in the way of the fire hydron. 

Fires out in the wild

If you find yourself in an open recreational space on an exceptionally hot windy day - it is never a good idea to start a fire.

If you are unsure about the conditions - speak to your local fire department first. 

In the event of high fire danger warnings - outside fires are prohibited. Traveller24's details daily forecasts as well as morning local weather warnings from The South African Weather Services - see keep up to date here.

A photo posted by Rita Steyn (@ritasteyn) on

Braai fire safety: 

When you are braaiing keep children away from the fire area and do not let them play with fire making objects. 

Do not braai near trees, bushes or wild vegetation. 

The braai master should always protect himself by wearing an apron and hand mit and wear short sleeved tops.

Travellers are also warned to never use a portable braai indoors. Pour water over coals before dispersing of them or going to sleep. 

READ: Smoking up the festive season the right way


A photo posted by Cheryl (@cher_att_elt) on

Camping fire safety:

When you are out camping, make sure to always use designated braai and fire facilities.

Never leave a fire unattended.

Do not set up tents or lounging areas near the fire. 

Keep a bucket of water and a spade ready if in the event of a fire breaking out. 

READ: Clued-up camping: 23 Best waterside campsites in the country


A photo posted by Önder Sayan (@onder.sayan) on

Emergency numbers:

District fire services that you can call to report a wildland fire emergency:

City of Cape Town: 021 480 7700

Overberg District Municipality: 028 425 1690

West Coast District Municipality: 022 433 8700

Eden District Municipality: 044 805 5071

Central Karoo District Municipality: 023 414 8176

Cape Winelands District Municipality: 021 887 4446

To report all emergencies, you can call 112 from a cellphone or 10177 from a landline toll free.

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