PROPERTY NEWS - The recent blaze that unfolded along Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain was a reminder of the very real threat fire poses to homeowners. It is impossible to predict if and when such a disaster might strike, which makes it all the more important for homeowners to have all the necessary safety precautions in place to minimise the potential harm.
"If a fire is not handled correctly, it can have a devastating outcome," says Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.
"Not only does it put your family at risk, but it can create severe damage to the property as well. Investing in a smoke detector and fire extinguisher are good ways to minimise these risks. Saving the number of your closest fire department on your cellphone's phone book is another vital part of being prepared for an emergency."
A few basic home safety precautions against an unexpected fire outbreak:
Create a home evacuation plan
Homeowners should take the time to create and practise an evacuation plan in the event of a fire. Though this might not seem necessary for a small household, Goslett encourages all homeowners to have a short discussion with everyone in the home during which they outline a rough exit plan that is simple enough for all to understand and execute in times of panic.
Those who want to be more thorough should draw a rough sketch of the floor plan of the home. Outline two exit routes for every room within the home and designate a single meeting spot outside of the home. If applicable, create an alternative route for those with disabilities. To make sure everyone remembers the exit plan, practise this exit strategy with everyone in the home at least twice a year.
Check your fire extinguisher regularly
All homeowners should invest in a fire extinguisher and keep this in an easily accessible area in the home. The fire extinguisher should be inspected at least once a month to ensure that it is fully operational. Things to look out for when doing this inspection include any noticeable damage, leakage, changes in the pressure gauge and corrosion.
Review your insurance policy
Homeowners should also review their home and household content insurance policy to see if they are covered against fire risk and what might be excluded from their policy. Those who live in high-risk zones might consider taking out a more comprehensive policy to guard against loss in the case of a fire.
When reviewing their policy, homeowners should also decide which material possessions in the home are worth trying to rescue before a fire gets to them and which can be easily replaced once their household insurance claim pays out. Items such as photo albums and other sentimental objects could be kept in a fire-proof safe for peace of mind.
"Being prepared for a potential runaway fire may not seem like a pressing matter right now, but homeowners should consider how quickly this kind of disaster can occur.
"Being prepared can help minimise harm and get you and your family away from danger before any serious injury occurs," Goslett concludes.
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