Are you sure your home is fireproof?

Posted on 27 July 2018

ER24 paramedics are often called out to attend to injuries caused by household fires – and in winter the prevalence increases. Be aware of the risk factors for fires and keep your family safe from burns.


cooking fire, fireproof

Never leave pots unattended and keep items like dish towels and oven gloves away from the stove. Keep your oven and hob clean as grease and food splatters can ignite at high temperatures and cause fires. In the event of a cooking oil (or grease) fire, put a tight-fitting lid or baking tray over the burning pot to extinguish the flames. Never use water to put out a cooking oil fire – this will only make the fire flare and spread. And don’t try to take the pot outside as the burning oil might slosh over you and other areas of the home.


Ensure your heater is far away from combustible items, such as curtains, furniture, books and boxes. Never drape clothes or socks over a heater to dry – and ensure it is switched off before you leave the house or go to bed. Don’t use aerosols or flammable cleaning liquids or sprays in close proximity to a gas heater and only move the unit when it isn’t in use.


Never leave candles unattended. Use common sense and make sure you place the candle holder in a position away from combustible materials, such as curtains. Watch for sporadic airflow around the candle which can cause the flame to shift direction. Avoid using water to extinguish a candle as hot wax can splatter in all directions and the temperature change could cause a glass container to crack or break. Rather use a snuffer.


Ensure the cords on your electrical appliances aren’t frayed or faulty and never position electrical wires under rugs. Don’t go the DIY route instead of using a licensed professional as improper installation is a common cause of fires.

Vinny Pillay, a senior ER24 paramedic, suggests the following if you are assisting a burn victim:

burn, burns, cold running water

  1. Call the fire department and medics
  2. Make sure that the victim is safe from further harm
  3. Remove any tight clothing and jewellery while waiting for the paramedics.
  4. Elevate the burned body part
  5. Be vigilant for signs of shock, including fainting, paleness and shallow breathing

“Don’t use oils, butter or ice on the burn,” Pillay says. “If a blister forms, don’t pop it. Place a cold, damp cloth over the burn area or rinse it under cool tap water while you’re waiting for the medics.”

Published in Emergency

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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