Updated 21 July 2016

How we can prevent deadly fires in South African homes

Every year thousands of South Africans are affected by deadly household fires. This is what you need to know about flammable products in your home and how you can prevent fires.


A home is supposed to be a place of shelter, safety and security but our houses also contain a number of objects and substances that are highly flammable and can easily cause dangerous and even deadly fires.

Each year, thousands of South Africans suffer serious burn injuries from household fires.

As many as nine people will lose their lives as a result of fires each day.

National Burns Awareness Week runs from the 6th to the 12th of May 2016 and aims to educate South Africans about treating burns and how to prevent deadly fires.

Flammable items hiding in our homes

Many South Africans do not have access to electricity and therefore still rely on paraffin lamps, stoves and heaters to light their homes, cook and keep warm.  A lamp that is accidentally kicked over is one of the quickest ways to start a fire.

In informal settlements where houses are located very close to each other, it is easy for a small fire to quickly become out of control.

In the last 16 years, over 120 000 homes in informal settlements have been destroyed this way.

household flammable items

But paraffin is not the only cause of household fires. The truth is there are flammable items in almost every room of your house.

These include:

  • Beauty products: hair spray, nail polish, nail polish remover
  • Cleaning products: bleach, fabric softeners, certain stain removers
  • Cooking products: cooking oil, fatty foods
  • General household items: shoe polish, thinners, paint, antifreeze, petrol cans
  • Medications containing alcohol: certain cough syrups

fire safety tips

Flame-resistant housing

The Cipla Foundation has been one of the driving forces behind a project that has developed, tested and perfected a fire-resistant modular structure that could put an end to the problem of shack fires in SA.

“Finally there is a structure that won’t burn down when a fire breaks out within the unit, as it traps the fire and suffocates it, thus preventing the fire spreading into other dwellings – it in effect acts as a fire break.”, says David Grier, the Managing Trustee of the Cipla Foundation.

<="" href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" the="">Ajuga structures are being introduced into informal settlements as crèches and community care centres to ensure the most vulnerable are protected in case of a fire outbreak

The foundation is currently looking for funding partners to help provide a solution to the national problem of shack fires.

Read more:

How your heater can kill you

Tips for protecting your home from wildfires

Safety tips for fire and water



This article was brought to you by Cipla Medpro South Africa (Pty) Limited and its affiliates. 
Find out how Cipla is advancing healthcare for all in South Africa.


Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.