Protecting Your Property: Home Fire Prevention & Safety Tips We All Need to Know

The truth is, many of us think we know what we’d do in the event of a blaze — but actually don’t. As a homeowner, there is never a bad time to review fire prevention and safety tips with your loved ones. This is especially so when the frequency of fire-related incidents seems to be on the rise, as evident from recent news reports such as ‘Help, my house is on fire’: What you need to do when you see black smoke and flames at home and About 50 people evacuated after e-bike catches fire in Toa Payoh HDB block.

SCDF responded to 1,844 fire calls in 2021, a decrease of 1.8% from 1,877 in 2020. There were 194 fire injuries in 2021, an increase from 184 in 2020. There were three fire fatalities in 2021.

Source: SCDF

As scary as it may sound, a small house fire can rage out of control and leave a devastating aftermath in just a matter of minutes. As such, it is always recommended to practice fire safety tips on a frequent and continuous basis. In this article, we have compiled some of the best ways to protect your home and be prepared for any such emergencies:

1. Get your homes equipped with fire safety devices

Although residential homes are not required to have fire protection systems, fire extinguishers, water sprinklers or fire alarms under the Fire Code, the SCDF encourages homeowners to have a portable fire extinguisher that can at least extinguish fires that are small at origin. “Some people may say that is very expensive, but you cannot calculate your life’s worth (that way). If a life is lost, you cannot get it back (no matter) how much you pay,” said retiree Wong Chee Chiew, 60, who lives in a five-room flat in Tampines and has a smoke detector, fire blanket and fire extinguisher in his home. Indeed, while fire extinguishers can cost upwards of $100 and the recommended type of smoke detector costs around $50 to $80, such expenditure are essential to help safeguard your property and lives.

It should also be noted that all new residential homes (from June 2018 onwards) must have smoke detectors installed to provide early alerts to smoke or fires. Besides installing fire safety devices, it is of utmost importance to test the smoke detector battery and check the gauge on the extinguisher at least once a year to ensure they are in working condition. Lastly, learn and educate your family about the proper way to use devices such as the portable fire extinguisher.

2. Be mindful of the electrical fire dangers in your home

First of all, it is essential to routinely inspect wiring in your house because electrical panels and breakers could become faulty over time. Rather than DIY, you should hire a reliable electrician to help you with this. This includes checking for corrosion or burn/hot spots, tightening all wires to the breakers and testing the breakers. Moreover, these specialists are aware of certain makes of panels that have known issues and can help identify these panels and provide safe, affordable upgrades.

Apart from having routine inspections, be alert and keep an eye of all home appliances that could potentially cause disasters:

a) Dropped lights

According to the Fire, Emergency Medical Services and Fire Safety Enforcement Statistics 2021, dropped light cases continued to be in the top 3 causes of fires, accounting for 349 cases (18.9%) of all fires in 2021. You might wonder, what does it mean by “dropped light”? It is the indiscriminate disposal of lighted materials such as lighted cigarette butts that were not completely extinguished, embers from charcoal and lighted incense sticks. Best way to prevent dropped light cases? Always make sure that the fire is put out by dousing with water, which can be done easily.

b) Batteries of electric bicycles, personal mobility devices (PMDs), power banks and laptops  

Most of the time, lithium-ion batteries — which have high energy density and flammable internal materials — are used in these devices. A faulty electrical circuitry may cause battery fires due to the short-circuiting of the batteries. On the other hand, rechargeable batteries that are left charging over a long period of time would lead to overcharging. All these could trigger a fire which can spread very quickly and result in devastating impact.

3. Create an evacuation plan for your family

Just as the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Devise a plan and get your entire family — including your pets — involved in an evacuation drill. Here are some recommended tips that should be reviewed with your loved ones before you face a fire head on:

  • Identify the ways out of each room in your house and make sure the exits are always free of furniture or clutter.
  • Draw an evacuation map that is easy for your little ones to understand the route to get to a safe zone. Paste it on the fridge year-round so it’s always top of mind for your family.
  • If you have a pet such as a cat or dog, do assign one person to keep track of it; this is to prevent any family member(s) from looking for a beloved pet during an emergency.
  • Establish a family meeting spot outside — and remind everyone where it is.

Having a home is a combination of many things. It’s a long-term financial commitment and it’s a life milestone. Fortunately, you can eliminate unneeded and unwanted stress when purchasing a large-ticket item such as a home by ensuring that it is properly insured and safeguarded when you apply for your home loan. Speak with our Mortgage Advisors and let us make home financing a breeze for you.

Alvin Lock
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