Preventing Fire Disasters: Expert Advice from Fire-Fox

While fire damage may cost a fortune in recovery, it’s the irrecoverable loss of priceless possessions and irreplaceable documents or business interruption that is most devastating to any individual, family, or business.

Leigh-Ann Botha, owner of Fire-Fox, a disaster recovery company, emphasizes that raising awareness and offering practical advice on preventing common fire hazards can help homeowners and business operators reduce the risk of fires. This proactive approach can also mitigate the likelihood of having to vacate homes or shut down businesses during the cleanup and repair processes for contents, site, and structure.

Common Causes of Household Fires

With extensive experience in post-fire disaster recovery, Leigh-Ann and her team have witnessed severe damage caused by avoidable, yet common fire hazards Here, they share essential tips to help prevent fire disasters.

1. Electric Blankets:

Electric blankets, when not handled properly, can become fire hazards. The wiring inside can become brittle and fracture due to heating and cooling over time. Another common cause is the use of additional blankets or pillows, which results in overheating and can ignite synthetic fabrics. Additionally, body weight on the blanket can also cause overheating, posing a serious fire risk.


Switch off blanket when going to bed. Do not fold away during summer months. Simply place the electric blanket in an open position under the mattress and then simply slide it out and refit at the start of winter.

2. Overloaded Plug Points & Multi-Plugs:

Using multiple adaptors in one outlet, often seen in living rooms or offices, increases the risk of domestic and commercial fires.


Use multi-plug adaptors with individual isolators or trip-switches to reduce risk. Hire an electrician to assess your wiring and advise on installing additional plug points if necessary.

3. AV & Electrical Appliances in Stand-by Mode:

Electrical appliances in stand-by mode can still pose a fire risk during power surges due to ongoing electrical current.


Always switch off appliances using their power buttons first, followed by the plug point. Do NOT opt to switching television sets on and off directly at the plug point as this too WILL damage transformers and inevitably PCB’s and distort picture colour or clarity.

4. Electrical Insect Repellents and Deodorizers:

These devices, when left plugged in and forgotten, can overheat and melt into the plug point when left empty for extended periods, potentially causing fires.


Place them in visible areas and unplug them daily.

5. Irons, Hair Straighteners, and Curling Tongs:

Leaving these appliances unattended on flammable surfaces can cause fires.



Install hooks or heat-resistant cradles for safe storage during use and never forget to unplug after use.

6. Candles:

Candles, when not properly secured or extinguished, can easily cause fires. Common mistakes include placing them near curtains or on high ledges and not fully extinguishing the wicks.


Ensure candles are put out properly and remove them from flammable areas or surfaces after use.

7. Cooking Appliances

Cooking-related fires often result from oil left heating on stove tops or food left unattended. Thin slices of bread can also buckle in a toaster, preventing it from popping up and switching the element off, causing a fire.


Never leave cooking appliances unattended and avoid distractions. Consider installing a smoke or heat detector unit. A battery powered unit can be installed for as little as R200.00 or a more advanced unit can be linked to your security company’s control room.

8. Microwaves with Rusted Cavities

Rust and peeling inside microwaves can cause arcing, posing a significant fire risk.


Keep the microwave door open to allow steam to escape and ensure cavities are clean and dry. Replace or repair the unit if rust or peeling occurs.

Investing in Fire Safety

In the event of a fire, a reliable fire extinguisher is a crucial investment. Ensure it is stored in an accessible location and educate all occupants (including domestic workers and children) on how to use it effectively. When deploying an extinguisher, direct the nozzle at the source of the fire and move outward from that point.


Preventing fire disasters requires vigilance and proactive measures from homeowners and business owners alike. By following these practical tips from Leigh-Ann Botha and the Fire-Fox team, you can significantly reduce the risk of fire in your home or business. Prevention and preparedness are key to safeguarding your property and loved ones from the devastating effects of fire.