uMhlanga fire station commander shares safety tips for the festive season

“You have to picture it like this. When a car, moving at 120km per hour, finally comes to a stop, the speed reduces to zero. However, the people in the car are still moving at 120km per hour. Sometimes the windscreen may stop them, or they may go through the windscreen. Wearing a seatbelt is a must,” said Yasudas.

THE festive is synonymous with beach visits, braais, socialising, road trips and all of the events that make one feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Without proper precautions being taken, these moments could turn to tragedy within a few seconds, said the division commander of the uMhlanga Fire Station, Jesse Yasadus.

“During this time of the year, we attend to more incidents than any other time, some that could have been avoided if safety and precaution were exercised.

Drownings, fires and motor vehicle accidents increase during the December period, sometimes due to negligence,” he said.

Water safety
Yasudas said firefighters respond to numerous cases over the festive season where children have drowned in rivers, at the beach or at swimming pools.

“Most of the time, these children are left unsupervised at rivers. If a child is swimming, he or she must be accompanied by an adult,” he said.

“Ideally, nobody should be swimming in rivers. However, the reality is that some still do,” he said. Yasudas added that no alcohol should be consumed while swimming and swimming should only be done on beaches where bathing is permitted.

Motor vehicle accidents
“Do not cross motorways. It is highly dangerous. Use a pedestrian bridge to cross the roadway instead,” he said.

Another factor that contributes to road accidents is drivers continuing to drive while fatigued.

“Take regular stretch breaks, get your blood circulating and some fresh air,” he said. Driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, and the use of mobile devices while driving, are also major contributors to car accidents.

Fire safety
Most families will be leaving their homes and going on holiday this festive season. With intermittent load shedding and power failures, Yasudas advises homeowners to take the necessary precautions to protect their electrical appliances.

“Installing a surge protector is advisable as it will prevent appliances from blowing up when the electricity is turned back on,” he said.

“Also be careful if you are using gel, candles and items such as these,” he said.

Another issue that firefighters have is that fire hydrant valves are sometimes not accessible when they report to fire incidents.

“Each hydrant has a number on it. For example, if the numbers 1.5 on it, the valve is located 1.5 meters away in the direction of where the numbers are written on the hydrant. Often, these valves have been covered with sand or rubble and we can’t access them,” he said.

Yasudas said that each family needed to have their own evacuation drill in case of an emergency.

House keys and a torch should be kept in a place where everyone can access them.

In case of an emergency call the fire station on 031 361 0000.