Fire Safety: What You Should Do in a Fire Emergency

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4th May 2021
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Photo by Esri Esri on Unsplash

With the recent Table Mountain wildfires destroying historic buildings and risking the safety of many living nearby, fire safety has become a hot topic (no pun intended). This event has shown us how quickly fire can spread and wreak havoc. On this note, fire safety has been something we’ve been giving a lot of thought to, and we want to make sure that you know what to do if you’re ever caught in a fire. What you know beforehand can save your life. Here’s what you should do in a fire emergency:

Remember That Every Second Counts

If you are overwhelmed with the smell of smoke or if you notice a blazing fire nearby, it’s not time to pull out your phone to record it. Get out of the building that you’re in as quickly as possible (don’t even think about sticking around to save your possessions) and call your local firefighters when you’re at a safe distance from the fire. Don’t be a hero and try to extinguish it yourself, fire is deceptively fast when it comes to spreading and, in some cases, it can spread almost instantaneously, making every second count when it comes to saving your life.

Here are the numbers you should save to your phone now if you don’t have them already:

  • Durban fire emergency services: 031 361 0000
  • Johannesburg Ambulance and fire headquarters: 011 472 1599
  • Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services Head Quarters: 021 480 7700 (cell: 107).

If You’re Stuck Inside a Building That’s Caught Fire

First and foremost, shout for help and keep shouting for help as long as you are able to.

Look for any fabric that you can use to cover your mouth to prevent you from inhaling toxic smoke and fumes. People often underestimate the danger that smoke inhalation presents. Make sure you stay low to the ground to avoid smoke (heat rises and so does smoke).

Don’t touch any doorknobs with your bare hands, as metal handles or knobs can heat up quickly, and while they may not be visibly hot, they have the potential to cause serious burns when touched.

Don’t hide in a closet or under the bed (kids may do this), this makes it hard for firefighters to find you and rescue you.

To see if it’s safe to exit through a door, be sure to check to see if there is smoke coming through underneath it. If there is, don’t open it – rather try to find another escape route.

If a rush of heat or smoke enters the room, quickly close door (not with your bare hands though), as this means the fire is too close for comfort, and so closing the door will help slow the spread. You can keep smoke from coming through the door by filling its cracks with wet cloths (if a water source is available). 

Lastly, it’s important you remember the golden fire safety rule: Stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire and make sure you cover your face.

We hope you have found these fire safety tips helpful and that you have a good idea of what you should do in a fire emergency! Please do remember to make sure you have important personal docs like passports, home deeds and wills scanned and kept as electronic copies, stored on the cloud, in case they ever get burnt in a fire. And please share these safety tips with friends and family – you never know, they could just save their lives!