How to keep safe this winter holidays

As we prepare for the colder days ahead, it’s important to remember winter safety. With the drop in temperatures, and the risk of home fires, it’s vital to make everyone in your family/community, as well as yourself, aware of the potential hazards this season. Here’s a few safety tips for this winter.

Open fires

In the cold season it’s normal to use all sorts of measures to warm ourselves, like using open flames to generate heat. Most fires are caused in winter.

  • Make sure your fire is small enough to contain and keep flammable items away from the fire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Always extinguish fires and safely dispose of cigarettes, hot ash, coal (once cooled), flammable liquid containers such as paraffin containers and others.


  • Never put anything close or right in front of your heater and never use it to dry clothes, regardless of whether it’s an open flame heater (bar heater) or an oil heater.
  • Always turn heaters and electric blankets off when leaving the room or before going to bed.
  • Check that windows open easily and always have an escape plan, so you know what to do in case of a fire.

Electrical appliances and cooking

  • Ensure that your electrical appliances are correctly wired and always in good working condition, with no exposed wires.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets by plugging in too many appliances and extension cords.
  • Be sure that kettles, stoves, and microwaves are turned off before going to bed.

Wear bright clothing if walking outside at night

It becomes harder for some drivers to see pedestrians at night. With the days become shorter and sunset starting earlier, be sure you can be seen when walking by opting to wear bright neon colours after dark. If possible, avoid taking shortcuts through empty/deserted areas such as bushes/parks/open fields during the night.


  • If caught in a smoke-filled room, get as low as possible to the ground. You can also cover your mouth and nose with a moist cloth, to reduce smoke inhalation.
  • When the electric heater has caught fire, switch off the power supply.
  • If paraffin heaters catch fire, use sand or a dry chemical powder fire extinguisher.
  • In the case of gas heaters, use gloves to turn off the valve and use a damp cloth to put out the flames.
  • Once you are out of the house, stay out, never return into the house.

Emergency services

  • Emergency Services on the toll-free numbers, 10177 or 112.
  • SAPS – 10111
  • Disaster Management Centre: 012 848 4602

You can also reach out to your local community watch.

We all want to keep warm and cosy this winter season, but it’s important to follow the precautions I’ve mentioned above to keep ourselves, family, and homes safe.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).