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Cape Town Fires: Know how to drive out of a fire safely

It is important to note that drivers who are caught in the smoke of such fires are at risk of a crash due to limited visibility…

Over the past weekend, families living in Sea Point, Cape Town, evacuated their homes as raging fires spread across the lower slopes of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.

According to News24, this is despite the city’s Fire and Rescue department not having issued any official evacuation order to the residents.

It is important to note that drivers who are caught in the smoke of such fires are at risk of a crash due to limited visibility.

The best way to avoid becoming a statistic in this situation is to be prepared and learn how to react if you are caught in a fire. The MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, provides some tips on how to drive and escape a fire.

  • Listen to traffic broadcasts and avoid areas which are affected by fires as much as possible.
  • If you are caught in a fire reduce your speed, as visibility will be severely reduced.
  • While it is recommended to always drive with your headlights on, check your headlights are on so that your visibility is increased and switch on your emergency lights.
  • If the smoke is extremely thick do not attempt to drive through it. You risk colliding with other vehicles doing the same or risk driving off the road into the fire. Rather safely turn around and find another route.
  • Do not exit your car. Your car is the safest place to be if you are caught in a fire as it provides the most protection from heat and smoke.
  • Unlike portrayals in the movies, the petrol tank is unlikely to explode from the heat of a fire.
  • Stay low in your car and keep the windows and vents closed while you wait for the fire to pass.
  • If, once the fire has passed, the smoke and heat in the car is too extreme get out and move to an area which is already burnt, ideally keeping your body covered.
  • Give emergency vehicles priority on the roads and listen to their instructions. They have the most experience and will get you safely out of a veld fire.
  • If you need to stop, find a clearing or a section of the roadside which has low vegetation. Turn your ignition off and lights on.
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