With winter in full swing many households across South Africa are using appliances such as electric heaters and blankets, gas heaters and fireplaces for the first time in many months. But consumers may be putting themselves in danger if they don’t conduct proper safety checks on such equipment. They could also find themselves having to foot the bill in the event of a fire.
While standard insurance policies cover fire damage financial service provider IntegriSure warned that the homeowner could be held liable if the cause of any damage was found to be as a result of their negligence.
“Homeowners should regularly inspect all electrical appliances as part of their regular maintenance routine to check for any faulty wiring. Accidental fire damage should be covered by a standard insurance policy; however, if it is determined that it is caused as a result of negligence then a claim may be repudiated,” said Helen Szemerei, CEO of IntegriSure.
Fires, as a result of faulty wiring, are not uncommon. According to Occupational Risk, which focuses on safety issues within the home, work and environment, there were 376 deaths caused by fire in 2009. Its research revealed that of the 4175 fires that occurred in formal dwellings, 800 were caused by electrical faults, 686 by cooking and 214 by heating appliances.
Integrisure provided the following safety tips to follow over the winter months:
• Check that any electric blankets and heaters that have been in storage are free of faulty wiring or defects, prior to use.
• Install an early warning system such as smoke detectors and alarms.
• Ensure that children are not left unattended in the vicinity of open fires, heaters or with fire lighting equipment such as matches and lighters.
• Ensure that there is a fire extinguisher in the home.
• Make sure you have an escape route planned.