‘Tis the season for destructional fires

It is important to educate young children about the dangers of fire. It might look pretty, but the devastation it leaves behind is absolutely horrendous.

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One would expect in the modern world that veldfires and runaway fires in densely populated areas are easily prevented and extinguished, but that is not the case. With the recent increase of veldfires in the area it is important to look at the ecological factors and also the dangers that veldfires pose.
According to South Africa’s rainfall patterns, the country has two fire seasons: the dry summer months in the Western Cape and the dry winter months in the rest of the country. Most fires are started by accident or carelessness.
According to research, approximately 70% of South Africa’s ecosystems are fire adaptive, but because most areas are populated, the need to manage fires in a way that is appropriate for land type and land use while ensuring that the natural processes and patterns are maintained, is of utmost importance.
It is important to remember that veldfires have no respect for property or boundaries. If the weather is favourable and there is vegetation to burn, it will continue for as long as it can survive.
Veldfires are responsible for more CO2 in the atmosphere than large cities’ pollution. The largest source of air pollution is smoke. The major pollutants in smoke are carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4). These all pose extreme health risks to people. Veldfires also lead to soil erosion and changes in the hydrological cycle. This has led to the destruction of fauna and flora and pollution of air and water.
If one looks at the animal and insect life in the veld, it is obvious that, should a veld burn, these animals and insects can and probably will burn to death.
The benefits of veldfires are the chance for regrowth. Ash from fires can act as fertiliser and old plant burn can give life to new plants to grow. Also, food for some animals and birds are the result of animals and insects escaping from veldfires.
Another issue is road safety. If smoke is the cause of poor visibility, it is advised that one should take another route or wait until the smoke has dissipated. This is not only to avoid poor visibility, but also the numerous health risks that could be caused by dangerous gases emitted by the smoke.
It is important to educate young children about the dangers of fire. It might look pretty, but the devastation it leaves behind is absolutely horrendous.
Lollos Daycare visited the GMM Fire station on Friday, 14 June. Mr Douw Botha and fellow firefighters taught the children about the jaws of life and the use of it. The children were taught what to do if there is a fire and who to call. The children repeated the numbers back to Mr Botha: “1! 1! 2! from a cell phone and 1! 0! 7! from a landline!”
They had the opportunity to wear a real fire suit and also the most exciting part of all was that they saw a real fireman’s pole! These educational trips are very important for the children because knowledge is power. – Ané Prinsloo

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