File picture: Dumisani Dube/Independent Media Archives

Johannesburg - Trying to keep warm in winter can present certain risks such as accidental fire, especially for those who live in informal settlements.
ER24 paramedics have given some safety tips and appealed to people to remember to put safety first when trying to stay warm during the winter months.

National Burns Awareness Week was held earlier this month to urge people to be careful.

The aim of National Burns Awareness Week is to provide an opportunity for organisations to raise burn awareness and give prevention messages.

Statistics show that in winter, many people living in informal settlements use gas heaters and open flames to keep warm. This presents the risk of starting a fire that can spread rapidly due to the flammable materials used to build shacks.

The close proximity of the houses results in many of them being burnt to the ground.

ER24 appealed to people to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children and not to leave candles burning. In addition:

* Never leave children unattended near a lit candle or fire.

* Never start a fire or use a heater while intoxicated. And don't fall asleep with a lit cigarette in your hand.

* Never discard lit cigarettes, especially in places that could easily be set alight.

* Never leave fires unattended, because embers can cause a fire.

* An open fire, stove or heater should not be used to dry clothes or shoes, and electric blankets must be in good working condition.

* Keep a window open to ensure good ventilation when using an indoor fireplace or gas heater.

The Star