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​There were few incidents reported in Joburg over the festive season, says the EMS, which urges residents to continue playing it safe.
IT was a quiet festive season for the Johannesburg emergency management services (EMS), whose officers were on duty to attend to any emergencies in the city.

Residents should buy fireworks from authorised dealers onlyResidents should buy fireworks from authorised dealers“It was quieter than previous years, and there were no major incidents,” reported the EMS’s spokesperson, Synock Matoboko.

There are a number of risks associated with this time of year, when thousands of people hit the roads to travel to holiday destinations, as well as get into the spirit of the season. According to Matoboko, the biggest of these dangers are car accidents, injuries from fireworks, drowning and assault.

Johannesburg fared well on all of these fronts. “We have been engaging with communities and making them aware of the risks, which may have contributed to the lower incident rate,” he said. The biggest issue for EMS centred on injuries from fireworks, and Matoboko confirmed that there was an incident on New Year’s Day requiring an amputation as the result of a firework injury.

“The City tries to regulate suppliers of fireworks, but there are lots coming into the country from unregulated sources,” he commented. “We therefore urge residents to only buy fireworks from registered sellers.”

He also advised that people should have a designated area in their garden where fireworks were lit. In one incident, a house in Soweto caught alight after a child lit a firework indoors. To prevent this from happening again, Matoboko also recommended that people should not try to re-ignite “dead” fireworks; they may catch alight when picked up and cause serious injuries.

Having Christmas in the height of our summer may signal sundowners and braais by the pool, but it also means a higher risk of drowning. However, Joburg seemed to steer clear of these worries over the period. “There were no drowning incidents over December, which is an achievement because it is something we had serious problems with in the last four or five years.”

Car accidents, which are also usually a serious problem over the holiday period, also decreased this year and there were no major accidents reported in Joburg, according to Matoboko. He appealed to residents to keep it that way by adhering to traffic laws and ensuring that seat belts were worn at all times.

In addition to these improved statistics, the usual hotspots such as Hillbrow also enjoyed a drama-free festive period. “The Hillbrow SAPS [South African Police Services], volunteers and three doctors at Joburg General Hospital were on duty over the period and there were no major incidents to report,” he said.

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