Durban — The winter season disaster risk reduction awareness campaign was launched at the Mandeni Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday.
The campaign aims to educate and inform residents about potential dangers posed by inclement weather conditions during winter.
People residing in risk areas will be equipped with knowledge on how to prevent and to protect themselves from various incidents, including veld fires, structural fires caused by the use of candles and overloading of electricity sockets, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from the use of generators and braziers, said MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.
“By educating ourselves and taking appropriate safety measures, we can protect ourselves and our communities from potential harm. It is crucial for us to recognise the various risks and hazards this time of year,” said Sithole- Moloi.
One of the most significant threats is the occurrence of fires, which can have devastating consequences for both individuals and communities. The areas that have reported the highest number of fire incidents during winter include uMgungundlovu, eThekwini and uThungulu districts.
“In KZN, we have witnessed an alarming number of fire incidents during the winter months, leading to loss of life, property damage, and displacement of families. These regions have experienced significant challenges in combating fires,” said Sithole-Moloi.
She said it was essential for the government to focus their efforts on these areas and provide them with the necessary resources and support to mitigate the risks associated with winter fires. She said it was crucial to emphasise the importance of using candles safely and avoiding overloading electrical circuits, to minimise the risk of fire incidents. She said the use of generators and braziers can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, which is a silent killer.
“These devices should be used in well-ventilated areas to prevent the build-up of this deadly gas. Educating our communities about the proper use and maintenance of generators and braziers is essential to safeguard their health and well-being,” said Sithole-Moloi.
She said the arrival of snow during winter brings its own set of risks and challenges. While snow can be a beautiful sight, it can also pose dangers to individuals and motorists alike.
She further stated that people may become confined to their houses for the duration of the snowfall, and this can lead to isolation and potential health risks. Motorists driving in snowy areas must exercise caution and adopt appropriate safety measures to prevent accidents and injuries.
“To achieve our goals, we will be conducting various educational programmes, workshops, and community engagement initiatives throughout the winter season. We will work closely with local authorities, community leaders, and other stakeholders to spread awareness and deliver vital information on safety measures,” said Sithole-Moloi.
Mervin Govender, of eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services, said during winter people tend to burn timber and other material to keep themselves warm.
“Due to uncontrolled burning, these fires spread and cause informal structures to catch alight. Burning garden refuse can also lead to fires become uncontrollable and escalating to other areas,” said Govender.
He said that residents who live in vegetative areas should create firebreaks by cutting down trees or veering away from their homes, as well as people who use paraffin stoves and keep these flammable products inside their homes.
SA Weather Service forecaster Wiseman Dlamini said there is a possibility of above normal rainfall in the early winter which is during July and August.
“Late winter there is below normal rainfall between August and September, with regard to maintaining minimum temperature. We are expecting warm temperatures in KZN,” said Dlamini.
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