As parts of South Africa adopt the browner hues of winter, fire becomes an increasing concern. Fire poses huge threats to our animals, our yards and, of course, ourselves. It goes without saying that buildings made of metal, stone or brick are far less at risk than timber structures. Cement and compacted earth floors also reduce risk, providing good fire resistance, and tiles and slate are ideal for roofing. Felt or corrugated roofing risks melting into stables in instances of serious fire, and without a roof buildings are ravaged more quickly by a fire due to the increased oxygen availability. Below are a few key tips for fire safety:
Important fire safety precautions:
- Ensure you have an evacuation plan and that everybody knows what it is. Make sure you display signs explaining the plan for all visitors. If the plan changes, make sure you update all staff and visitors to the yard.
- Keep the yard area clear to make escape easier for both humans and animals.
- Make sure that stable doors are easy and quick to unlock.
- Install smoke detectors where possible, and ensure an adequate supply of fire extinguishers are found around the barn. Make sure that staff know how and when to use fire extinguishers.
- Have a no-smoking policy in and around the yard. If this is not possible, create a designated smoking area with somewhere for cigarette butts to be discarded safely. Ideally this smoking area should be as far away from the barn as possible.
- Ensure all electrical appliances are regularly checked for safety.
- Try and remove pests that may chew on electrical items leaving exposed wires and thus creating a fire risk.
- Keep water away from all electrics.
- Avoid leaving any electrical items plugged in when not in use, and try to avoid having electrical items on at night.
- The second a fire starts, call the fire services – fires spread quickly. Don’t sit and wait hoping that you will get it under control!