19th Nov 2018 1:40:10 AM

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7th June 2010
Winter warning (southern hemisphere)
Children of Fire helped survivors of two domestic fires in the past week, in formal brick-built housing in Alexandra Township.
Both fires were triggered by electrical faults.

The first was in the three-roomed home of an asthmatic diabetic woman Nomsombuluko Zulu (55) in 19th Avenue, who also had high blood pressure, had suffered a heart attack and was in hospital before the fire. She had an oxygen cylinder in her house, to help with her asthma.

When the fire started as flames came out of an electrical socket, maybe it could have been contained. But with the oxygen cylinder, there was no chance. It exploded. Her daughter Nolwazi Zulu (31) her sister (36), her daughter Masadi (18) a matriculant, two of her sister's sons Gift (14) and Sipho (16), were among the extended family who lost all their possessions.

Another fire in 9th Avenue three days later was also attributed to an electrical fault. Jack Makhupetsi, a taxi driver lost everything he owned apart from a sofa that his neighbours dragged out for him.Neither family had any insurance for their homes, nor for the contents.

Now while most of those that we help are burned in squatter camp homes and rural huts, people are also burned in formal housing.
Fires and burns increase in winter months.
This is just your own safety reminder.

If there is a power cut, and you use a candle, use it in a secure holder and not near a curtain or anything else likely to come near the flame.
Do not stick it on a saucer, but use a proper holder. Even a jam jar half-filled with sand is better than a saucer.
Do not place a "night light" or short fat candles directly on the edge of a bath - most modern baths are made of a type of plastic and if the candle is forgotten, it will melt through the plastic and start a house fire.
Do not leave candles unattended and do not leave children alone with candles or access to candles and matches.

Buy a fire extinguisher.
Get it serviced once a year.

Buy a smoke alarm.

Teach your family an escape route.
Identify the weakest family members (little ones and grandparents usually) and talk about how they would get out if there was a fire.
Agree where the keys are and make sure even young children learn how to use them.
Teach the children to crawl low under smoke (the air is cleanest close to the ground).
Teach children to get out, even if the grownups keep sleeping (maybe already overcome by smoke).

Check your household electricity.
80 per cent of electrical compliance certificates (in South Africa) are false.
Now in a recession you think you cannot afford to make your electricity safer. Can you afford to die?

The most common burns are still due to hot liquids. Boiling pots on the stove reached for by a curious toddler's hand, can leave a child without a scalp for ever.
Mothers drinking hot tea with their child on their laps, cause devastating injury when the child suddenly moves and the tea spills all over them.

Don't misuse appliances. Heaters are not clothes driers.
Stoves are not heaters.
Bar heaters are not peanut roasters.
Winter is a time of danger. Avoid it. You know how.

When some Saab employees came to visit us in 2010 we shared one of the children's favourite treats with them - unique fresh doughnuts. For the longest time the children have been asking to go to a "Doughnut factory" because they want to get closely involved in making the pastry. But our closest doughnut store - Pick n Pay Campus Square - hasn't succumbed to a year of pleading yet...

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This material is Copyright The Dorah Mokoena Charitable Trust and/or Children of Fire , 1998-2018.
Distribution or re-transmission of this material, excluding the Schools' Guide, is expressly forbidden without prior permission of the Trust.
For further information, email firechildren@icon.co.za