Protecting children from fires | Western Cape Government

Protecting children from fires


The Western Cape Disaster Management and Fire & Rescue Services are preventing fires through education.

Studies indicate that fire injuries are not random, but predictable events that are preventable and that fire prevention strategies can work.

This is why they plan to distribute educational  fire toolkits, to all Early Childhood Development  Centres (ECDs), located in communities that have high fire and burn related deaths and injuries.

The toolkit consists of:

  • an educator’s manual; containing lesson plans,
  • an educational flipchart,
  • posters, and
  • activity books for children used to reinforce the lessons.

The Zolile Malindi Community Early Childhood Development Centre, in Khayelitsha, was the first ECD to  receive a fire toolkit.

Rodney Eksteen, Assistant Director for Fire Brigade Services, said children make up a large percentage of the fire and burn death and injury statistics in our province. “The high losses of life and property due to fires in our province, indicates a need for a fire-safe environment through education. Many fire deaths and injuries involve children of pre-school and foundation phase ages.”

One of the best ways to manage a fire related burn injury is to prevent it from happening. “Prevention is much more cost-effective, and will clearly reach greater numbers of people,” Rodney said.

Basic Emergencies, Safety and Fire Education (BESAFE) programme

Through the Fire is Everyone’s Fight campaign and the Basic Emergencies, Safety and Fire Education (BESAFE) programme, they aim to raise awareness among children to create safer homes and communities. The BESAFE manual  presents each of the following topics:

  1. Stay away from hot things
  2. Stay away from hot water
  3. Match & lighter safety
  4. Safety with hazardous liquids
  5. Safety around open flames
  6. Fire hazard inspections
  7. Install and maintain smoke alarms
  8. Home fire escape plan
  9. Identify fire exits
  10. Respond correctly during fire drills
  11. Crawl low under smoke
  12. Report fire and smoke immediately
  13. Stop, drop & roll if your clothes are on fire
  14. Cool a burn with clean cool water
  15. Fire fighters are community helpers

Teachers and fire and life safety educators can use the BESAFE programme for one-to-one, small-group, or classroom instruction. Through this children are encouraged to:

  • practice making safer choices,
  • resisting peer pressure to take dangerous chances, and
  • influence family members to take action to reduce fires.

Act smart, be safe

The BESAFE programme is not limited to classroom visits – it can be integrated into your community’s risk reduction efforts.

You can use it when schools visit the fire station, when you conduct home visits, or when you host events to educate the community on fire and burn safety. Add the number 112 to your cellphone in case of emergency or contact your district municipality for emergency numbers. 

Visit the Disaster Management and Fire and Rescue Services website for more information. 

Fire is everyone’s fight campaign

The Fire is Everyone's Fight campaign contains guidelines for using the posters with learners. It also includes suggestions for activities that reinforce the key fire safety and emergency preparedness messages. Minister Bredell says it’s vital to educate communities about fires and fire prevention and in particular children.

“We have a responsibility to teach children the basics and to act responsibly around fire ourselves. We must continuously talk to our families and friends about the dangers of fire and what to do when it breaks out.”

The idea of the department’s Fire is Everyone's Fight campaign, is to help communities understand that fires can be prevented.  

    Some key objectives include: 
    • Reducing fire injuries and deaths in informal settlements.
    • Reducing property loss. 
    • Limiting other residential fire losses. 
    The content on this page was last updated on 6 July 2016