Load shedding has made it necessary for homes and businesses to function on alternative heating and energy devices. While these fulfil a crucial role in the current energy crisis, Fidelity Fire Solutions reminds users that such devices can pose a risk if not installed, stored, or used properly.
Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity Services Group, says fire prevention must be kept top of mind at all times, inside and outside of the load shedding schedule.
“It is understandable that alternative power sources have become part of life. However, within our own experience and that of the various municipal emergency services, candles, generators, inverters, gas sources, and even solar panels can cause a fire,” she says.
Consumers also need to be aware that fires involving lithium batteries require very specific firefighting methods because when these batteries fail or overheat, they release flammable, toxic gases that can spark a fast spreading fire that is extremely difficult to extinguish.
“The risk of battery re-ignition makes these types of fires a challenge. As the fire grows, so does the risk of the extreme heat triggering thermal runaway and further fires in other cells located at or near the site. Successfully putting out a lithium battery fire requires a special type of fire extinguisher,” Hattingh explains.
Top fire prevention tips
• Ensure candles are placed in a suitable holder.
• Candles should never be left unattended, especially on a combustible surface.
• Keep matches/lighters/other ignition sources out of reach of children.
• Ensure generators are only operated in well ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide/dioxide vapours causing a toxic inhalation risk.
• Generators do not have earth leakage protection like those installed on the electrical distribution board in buildings. Generator electricity is unlikely to trip should one get an electric shock, so suffering a severe electric shock can result in an electrocution fatality.
• Place an inverter in a well-aerated area to prevent the battery from overheating.
• Install the inverter and the battery on a flat surface.
• The battery terminals have to be tightened while the inverter is in use and even before use.
• Connect the battery cables in the right direction.
• Only use an accredited installer for generators and inverters.
• Always ventilate the room to prevent a build-up of carbon monoxide in the home.
• Gas cylinders should be kept at least one metre away from any sources of heat.
• Store gas cylinders in a cool, dry place when not in use.
• Cylinders should be stored upright.
• Only allow an accredited agent to install gas cylinders for fitted appliances.
• Ignite the ignition source (match, lighter) before opening the gas flow.
“People often spend more time getting alternative power sources into their home or business than on mitigating the risk of running these. Systems that are not installed properly, safely, and legally are an outright threat to life and property,” Hattingh concludes.
© Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. | All Rights Reserved.