This Christmas you can give the gift of heightened awareness and reduced risk to home fire disasters to families most vulnerable to its effects.

A decent home provides access to safe energy sources and electricity.

 

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Fire-related burns are responsible for about 265 000 deaths annually with over 90 percent occurring in developing or low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Burns are among the most devastating of all injuries, with outcomes spanning the spectrum from physical impairments and disfigurement, to emotional and mental consequences. Despite the fact that injury due to burns is largely preventable, Africa carries an extraordinary burden of fire related injuries. It is estimated that over a million patients are burned annually on the African continent, with 18 percent of hospital admissions and six to ten percent of mortality being burn-related.
 
In South Africa, a Medical Research Council report estimates that each year 3.2 percent (1 600 000) of the country’s population will suffer from burn injuries, with the vast majority being from poorer communities. This high incidence is driven by negative impact factors including the influx of people to urban areas, haphazard urban development, overcrowding, inadequate electrification of homes in low-income communities, paraffin and bio-mass fuels used as the primary energy sources, and lack of effective preventative and education programmes.
 
Young children are particularly vulnerable, with death as a result of burn injuries claiming approximately 1 300 young lives each year. This concentration of burn mortality and injury among infants and toddlers occurs more frequently among very young black children below the age of three. Incidents of burn injury thereafter decrease until adolescence when burn mortality rates start to increase once older children become exposed to a wider range of high-risk activities such as cooking and lighting fires for morning and evening meals – both of which are activities common for older children in low-income settings. Older children also spend an increasing amount of time with other children, older siblings and adults outside the home. This widening social network exposes them to risks posed by open fires initiated for heating and cooking and managing heating appliances and heated appliances or utensils.

Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA) works in poor and informal settlements across South Africa where the majority of low-income earning people use dangerous household energy sources such as paraffin, candles, and wood; as well as energy appliances such as paraffin stoves, electrical and gas stoves, and heaters. These are mostly used in shacks built with highly combustible materials such as wood, cardboard, plastic and wall paper, as well as heat conductors such as Zinc. It has been proven that it takes 45 seconds for a shack to be raised to the ground once alight – with only one entrance/exit, this is hardly enough time for a family of 3-5 to escape almost certain death.

Our Home Fire Disaster Prevention Project is designed to measurably reduce home fire disasters (injuries and death) in informal settlements.

  • Build safer and more resilient communities by facilitating knowledge on home energy safety in communities and capacitating them to take ownership of household energy safety.
  • Educate and inform at risk communities about the dangers of unsafe practices relating to the consumption of energy and raise awareness about fire prevention.
  • Facilitate behaviour change for people to adopt safer energy consumption practices in the home and workplace
  • To educate homeowners on taking ownership of their household energy safety.
  • To facilitate the development of collaboration between the community and local government in order to sustain an energy safety programme once HFHSA has exited the intervention.
  • To upskill community volunteers from the community on paraffin poisonings & treatment; Fire prevention and reaction; Burn prevention & Management
  • To heighten awareness on fire risk reduction through the proper storage and use of household energy by engaging in a door-to-door awareness

 

You can ensure a safer 2020 for families in communities most vulnerable to home fire disasters.

 

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