18 January 2022
The Cape Winelands District Municipality’s Fire Services, Disaster Management and Municipal Health Services divisions are responsible for the wellbeing of our citizens and our environment. Due to the hot weather that is predicted for this weekend and the usual hot weather associated with February, the divisions share a few tips on keeping our environment and therefore ourselves safe.
- Fire prevention and reporting is everyone’s business. The earlier a fire is reported, the quicker the fire services can evaluate the situation and deploy the correct resources. Anyone can report a wildfire – in the Cape Winelands the number to call is 021 887 4446.
The CWDM’s Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Josias, cautions, “Avoid making fires on the very hot days when there is a high fire index, when conditions are favourable for a veldfire. In this hot weather, the ground and plants are very dry and even a small spark, if it lands on the right spot, can have catastrophic consequences.”
- During this very hot season, it is advisable to pack cold foods and enjoy a picnic rather than lighting a fire, even when there are designated braai areas.
- Hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners and campers should be extra vigilant while out and about in the heat. Always tell a family member or friend which trail you will be following and when they can expect you back. As such your family can alert authorities and your safe evacuation can be arranged, if required.
- Landowners and farmers should ensure that all flammable vegetation situated on the borders of property/orchards and on fire breaks are cleared away.
MUNICIPAL HEALTH SERVICES
- In the heat it is vital that foodstuffs are stored safely. Meat is especially prone to spoiling if left in warm temperatures.
Chief Environmental Practitioner Theresa Davids advises, “Remember to take an insulated shopping bag or cooler bag when doing your shopping, especially if you have to wait for a taxi or other transport. Meat can easily spoil and develop bacteria that can make you ill, if not kept cool. You can also put a frozen bottle of water into your shopping bag to help keep meat, dairy and cold meats cool while travelling home from shopping.”
When packing for a day outdoors there are a few ways in which you can prepare.
- Fill water bottles with water and place in the freezer overnight – these can then be used as ice packs in the cooler box and will provide drinking water once melted.
- Pack some cloths and soap; washing your hands before eating is vital when one is outdoors!
- When packing the cooler box; try to pack it in such a way that the foods and snacks you will need first are packed on top so that you only open the cooler box when needed. If you can, pack cooldrinks and extra water into a separate container, as these are opened more often. In this way the food in the cooler box can stay cool and fresh. Always place cooler boxes in the shade.
- It is better to make use of plastic or disposable containers when picnicking; glass is fragile and if broken can cause a nasty injury. Make sure that you clean up before leaving a public space. Take along a dustbin bag or two so that rubbish can be collected and discarded immediately.
- Drowning is one of the leading causes of death among young children in South Africa. Never leave children unattended near swimming pools, rivers, or dams. Many drownings occur when adults are socialising and are less vigilant. Do not expect children to look after their younger siblings. Make sure children who cannot swim wear their age-appropriate flotation devices (such as water wings) at all times.
Head of Disaster Management, Shaun Minnies, advises, “The biggest risk we face in this very hot weather is heatstroke, which if left unattended can lead to death. Here in the Cape Winelands our hottest days coincide with school athletics, outdoor activities, and harvest time. Therefore, it is vital that people spending time outdoors always wear a hat, have access to clean, fresh drinking water and stay out of the sun during the heat of the day.”
- Sunburn: Always make sure that you apply sunblock and re-apply after each swim. Stay out of the sun between 11:00 and 14:00.
- Dehydration: Drink plenty of water, especially when exercising or working outdoors.
- Never leave children or animals unattended in a hot, closed vehicle.
Finally, keep emergency numbers close at hand. Contact the relevant emergency services if you are concerned about someone’s condition. Do not wait until it is too late.