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Veld Fires in Cape Town: Safety Tips, Donations & Emergency Contacts Guide

Everything you need to know about what to do, who to call and how you can help in the case of Western Cape fires

Veld fires, also known as wildfires, are scary and can be devastating when they involve hard-to-control flames that tend to ravage hundreds and sometimes thousands of hectares. These types of infernos tend to break out during the dry summer months (early October to late March), when parched fynbos, the natural and highly flammable vegetation in the area, makes large parts of the mountainous landscape prone to blazing conflagrations.

The most recent blaze, which has hit Muizenberg, Noordhoek Hout Bay and surrounding areas, is a perfect example of how dangerous and consuming these fires can be.

 

 

 

A photo posted by Faeron Wheeler (@faerie452) on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:44pm PST

 

 

A photo posted by Ricky Conn (@connsnature) on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:58pm PST

 This is why it is crucial to know what you can do in order to not only maximise your own safety, but also how to contribute towards the well-being of others who may be in danger too.

HOW TO REPORT VELD FIRES IN CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS

  • City of Cape Town: 107 or +27 (0) 21 480 7700 (from a cell phone)
  • Overberg: +27 (0) 28 425 1690
  • West Coast: +27 (0) 22 433 8700
  • Eden: +27 (0) 44 805 5071
  • Central Karoo: +27 (0) 23 414 2603
  • Cape Winelands: +27 (0) 21 887 4446

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF VELD FIRES IN CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS

If you are situated in an area where veld fires are common, these tips could prove useful in the event of a fire:

  • Report the fire
  • Make sure you close all windows and doors to prevent burning embers
  • Any burning embers indoors should be immediately extinguished
  • Should there be an immediate threat to your property, damp down your garden (using either a hose or irrigation system)
  • Always have emergency food and medical kit ready
  • In case the water supply fails, make sure the you fill baths, buckets and dust bins with water
  • Seal any gaps between the doors and floors with damp towels in order to prevent smoke
  • Make a firm decision about whether it is safe to evacuate the scene or call for assistance
  • In the event of an evacuation, be sure to reach a safe area  

WHO AND WHAT TO DONATE TO IN THE CASE OF VELD FIRES IN CAPE TOWN

The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) is a non-profit organisation that plays an immense role, alongside other public emergency services, in combating frequent blazes and also raising awareness around veld fires. In light of major veld fires, the VWS typically accepts donations in the form of food (don’t forget halaal goodies), drink (don’t forget diet drinks for diabetics) or a simple monetary pledge. For more information about where you can drop off VWS donation supplies or to which VWS bank account you make donations, visit www.vws.org.za and follow @VWSFires on Twitter.

The SPCA, which is the oldest animal welfare organisation in the country, has a Wildlife Team that is dedicated to monitoring and assisting animals that are affected by wildfires in various areas in the Western Cape and is also open to receiving both cash donations and water bowls, blankets, towels and more. For more information about the SPCA and ways you can assist the organisation during veld fires, visit www.spca-ct.co.za.

For regular updates on veld fires and various donation drives in the Western Cape, keep an eye on these accounts on Twitter:

  • Working on Fire: @wo_fire
  • Volunteer Wildfire Services: @vwsfires
  • SPCA: @SPCAcape
  • City of Cape Town: @CityofCT

Good to know: The aforementioned organisations also have up-to-date Facebook pages.

HOW YOU CAN DO YOUR PART TO PREVENT VELD FIRES IN CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS

It has been noted that almost 90% of veld fires are due to human-related incidences. Here are ways to play your part in making sure that you contribute to the prevention of these dangerous fires:

  • Do not discard of burning cigarette butts carelessly
  • Report any negligent behaviour on by dialling +21 (0) 21 424 7715 (Stompie hotline)
  • If living near a high-risk fire zone, maintain necessary firebreaks and make sure visible fire extinguishers are in place
  • Only braai in safe and designated areas
  • In the event of a braai, make sure that fires are completely out before leaving the area
  • Do not burn any rubbish, rubber tyres or copper wire under any circumstances – this is illegal
  • Avoid slash and burn activities during  high-risk veld fire periods

Header image courtesy of Gail McAll.

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