Mazabuka News

Written By: The Lowdown - Feb• 01•01

smallcover2001-02Of Fire Hydrants And First Aid Kits…

Travelling to Siavonga recently, we came across a burnt out bus, the vehicle had been totally destroyed but the trailer remained intact. On the way back we encountered a similar sight – a smouldering pantechnicon parked on the roadside half way down Munali Hills. There was no one in sight in either case and we drove past giving brief thought to how the fires had started and what had become of the occupants. Both visions returned to me in a flash when I had my own brush-with-fire in a vehicle recently.

It all happened suddenly. One minute there was an incredibly acrid smell then a waft of smoke came out from a vent beneath the cubbyhole and the next minute flames started licking out of the vent. There was no way we could pull over onto a verge – the road from the turnpike to Mazabuka Town is virtually verge-less. Apart from a bag of fairly juicy looking tomatoes (!) we had absolutely nothing to put the fire out with and our only choice was to drive very slowly to the nearest homestead where we could find water. It took five very long and tense minutes to get there and by then the front of the car was engulfed in smoke – and the flames were flickering out of the vent at an alarming rate. A wonderfully hospitable and concerned woman came to our rescue from the house close to the road and three buckets of water later we had the fire out and were able to limp home. But… what if we hadn’t found water? The fire would most definitely have spread throughout the vehicle and it would have ended up in a similar state as the bus and pantechnicon – a ghostly grey burnt out wreck!

If we’d had a fire extinguisher in the car (compulsory in many countries) we could have had the fire out before it caused any sort of damage. If the pantechnicon and bus had had fire extinguishers they too would probably be in great shape today.

There is definitely a case for carrying fire-extinguishing equipment in one’s car in this country – especially as there are so few garages and watering holes between towns in Zambia.

And on the subject of carrying items that could make the difference between life and death in a car, how many people carry a first aid kit – rubber gloves, bandages, etc? There’s nothing worse than being first on the scene in an accident and not being able to do anything. Staunching the flow of blood (wearing the gloves) is something that any untrained person can do. Most chemists usually carry the basics and could make up a bag for you to keep in your cubbyhole.

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