Home safety fire prevention usj 2
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This year, the nation was shook by news of a fire at a home in USJ 2, Subang Jaya, which claimed the lives of 4 people. The victims had failed to get out in time, as the fire engulfed the lower floor, and the grille of the upstairs windows could not be opened.

The tragic incident served as a wake-up call for better fire safety at home, and in highlighting the importance of educating ourselves and family members on what to do to prevent fires, as well as what to do should one happen.



Before its too late

The age-old saying of ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true when it comes to fire safety at home. There are several simple prevention methods that could be used to prevent fires at home.

How to prevent fire at home:

1. Use only SIRIM approved or equivalent electrical appliances.


2. Install smoke detectors in the kitchen, between the living room and dining room, as well as place one on each floor (for multi-level homes). Change batteries regularly to ensure that they are functional.

3. Place fire extinguishers in easily accessible parts of the home.

4. Keep an extra sets of keys to your main & back door in your rooms. Doing this would enable you to escape quickly in case of an emergency.

Keep the keys to the padlocks of windows nearby.


5. If window grills are installed, make sure that they can be opened for easier escape. Some window grills come with latches that would allow you to have it locked with a padlock.







Do not ‘overload’ extension cord



6. Avoid having multiple electrical appliances connected to a single electrical outlet or power cord extension. This is to prevent ‘overloading’ of current on the electrical outlet. When overloading happens, and the circuit breaker or switchboard fails, a fire may start.
















Don't ‘chain’ extension cords


7. Never connect extension cords to other extension cords, as doing so can overload them.

8. Switch off all electrical outlets and unplug appliances whenever they are not in use. Current may still be running through the wires when an appliance is still plugged into the socket although it is switched off. Do this especially when you’re going for a holiday.


9. Never leave laptops or mobile phones charging without supervision, especially overnight.

10. If you are using a clothes dryer, never use it when you are sleeping or when you are not at home.

11. Have your home electrical system checked by professional electricians. Old wiring may need replacement if it is damaged by pests such as rats or ants. Circuit breakers or switchboards may also need replacement over time.


12. Never leave the fire of a stove on without supervision.


13. Place cooking oil, flammable liquids and materials away from the stove and electrical outlets. Should a small fire occur, these flammable materials should not be near it.


14. If you are using a gas stove, and smell gas, quickly detach the gas from the stove, open all windows, and head outside of your home to call the fire department. If it happens at night, DO NOT turn on the light in the kitchen, proceed to immediately opening windows and making the call outside.

15. Never light a candle near flammable materials such as newspapers, books, magazines, curtains, etc.




Planning an escape route


You as well as other residents of your home should also have a plan of escape, in the event of a fire. This is to avoid panic and to ensure a quicker escape, as well as setting a meeting point for everybody.

Extra tip: Print a layout of your home with the routes drawn out to help children or elders understand better.


Aside from fire extinguishers, other handy equipments to prepare are torchlights, fire escape masks, and even screw drivers. The torch is to light the way or enable others to find you more easily. 

Remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions and labels on how to use the fire escape mask, and teach other members of the family how to use them. Fire escape masks help you breathe during a fire for safe escape. Breathe calmly when using a fire emergency mask, because the more you pant, the quicker it gets clogged up, making it unusable.



Keep screwdrivers in your room, Phillips and Slotted head ones, along with a hammer, knife, fireproof tape, and scissors as well.

The screw drivers come in handy should you be trapped in. If you have a fixed window grill, and can’t get your head outside the window, remove the grill by unscrewing the bolts. Use a knife or scissors to cut any connections if necessary.

If there is a window which is shut tight and you can’t open it, break it with a hammer or a heavy and sharp object. Remember to use towels and so on as some form of protection from the shattering glass. Clear sharp and jagged edges on the window with the hammer, and cover broken glass shards with towels or bed sheets before climbing through.



What to do when there is a fire?


If you happen to notice when a the fire just begins and is still manageable, use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before it spreads. Avoid using water to put out fires that start from electrical appliances or on the stove. However, should you lack the proper equipment to put out the fire, follow the simple principe of ‘MINOR FIRE- ESCAPE, THICK SMOKE- SHUT THE DOOR’ as per expert firefighter Mr. Tsai Tsung-Han, from Taiwan’s advice. 



Watch the full video (with English subtitles) of his guidelines here:

There are several scenarios which could call for different step, and will be explained in detail below.


Scenario 1- Fire in the kitchen

Should a fire break out on the stove when cooking, here is what to do:

(i) Place a lid over the wok or pan to smother the fire. This will cut off the oxygen supply to the fire.
(ii) Disconnect and turn off the gas.
(iii) Never pour water into the wok or pan when there’s fire, because the mixture of superheated oil and water could create an explosion as seen here.
(iv) If the fire becomes uncontrollable, exit your home immediately with children or other members of the family.
(v) Call 999.


Scenario 2- Fire in your landed home

If you live in a landed home, follow these steps:

(i) If you are in your bedroom with your door closed, DO NOT open the door first.
(ii) Check if there is smoke coming out from under the door.
(iii) Place the back of your hand on the door and door knob.

(iv) If it is not too hot, slowly open the door.
(v) Alert all other family members or people in the house. (If the smoke is moderate)
(vi) Follow exit plan and make your way out of the house. (Help or guide children and elderly.)
(vii) If there is thick smoke, get down and crawl.
(viii) Leave everything behind. You should have your keys already in your hand that is kept in your room to open any locks.
(ix) Call 999 after you have exited.

Extra note:
- Educate young children to always escape and exit the premise whenever they see smoke as a safety measure. Also, tell them to alert other adults such as neighbours when they are outside of the danger zone.
- If you see smoke coming from under the door of a room, do not open the door so that the flames can be contained.



Scenario 3- Fire in your home and you are trapped in a room

Regardless of whether in a landed or high-rise residence, here’s what to do if you find yourself stuck in a room.

(i) If the door or door knob is too hot to touch, and there is a lot of smoke coming from under the door, DO NOT open the door.

(ii) Take clothes, blankets, towels, or anything to seal the openings in the door to prevent smoke from getting in.
(iii) Call 999 immediately.
(iv) If in a landed house with grille that can be opened, climb out onto the roof and alert neighbours.
(v) If unable to exit the room in any other way, lie down on your belly on the floor and wait for help to arrive.
(vi) Wet a piece of cloth, breathe calmly over it. Doing this may provide temporary relief, but may not filter out toxic smoke entirely
(vii) While waiting for fire fighters, be alert and listen carefully if there are any rescuers who are trying to locate you.
(viii) Make Loud Noises - If you think rescuers can’t hear you, or if you have trouble shouting. Knock an objects against the floor, furniture, etc..

Extra note: Leave doors unlocked so rescuers can reach you.


Scenario 4- Fire in a high-rise building

Be it in an apartment, condominium, hotel, or even office building, there are certain steps that can be taken to ensure safety during a fire.

(i) If you are in a unit within a high-rise building, and the fire is not in your unit, first try to ascertain the location of the fire.
(ii) Look out the window or balcony and look for smoke.
(iii) If the smoke is coming from a floor above where you are, begin to make your way out of the building.
(iv) Again, see if there is smoke coming from under the door of your unit/room/office.
(v) Check the temperature of the door before opening.
(vi) Look outside.
(vii) If there is no smoke or a moderate amount of smoke, make your way to the staircase.
(viii) Remember to close the door to your unit/room/office etc..
(ix) Again, crawl if there is smoke, but inform others to do so as well.
(x) If there is a door at the staircase, check for smoke and feel the temperature of the door.
(xi) If the door of the fire escape is not hot or there is no smoke, open the door and head DOWN.
(xii) Exit the building and call 999.

Extra note: If the door of the fire escape is hot, do not open. Look for alternative staircase. If not found, return to your unit/room/office immediately. (Proceed to Scenario 5)


Scenario 5- Fire in a high-rise building, trapped in your unit/room/office

If you find that the only option left is to stay in your unit/room/office during a fire, follow these steps:

(i) Like in Scenario 3, seal the door to prevent smoke from entering.

(ii) If there is no smoke outside the window or balcony, open it, go outside and signal for help.
(iii) If smoke is visible outside the window or balcony, do not open them and instead, shut them.
(iv) Call 999.
(v) Lie on your stomach and wait for rescuers to come to you.
(vi) Make noises to attract their attention.

Extra note: Inform rescuers the floor, unit/room number etc. to help them locate you better. Unlock doors and padlocks etc. so rescuers can reach you more easily.



Don’t forget!

1. Prevention is always best to avoid any unfortunate incidents from happening.
2. Always be prepared with the knowledge and tools in case of a fire.
3. During home fires, most people die due to the inhalation toxic smoke, and rarely from getting burnt.
4. Keep low and crawl under smoke whenever there’s a fire.
5. On the ground, breathe calmly.
6. If your clothes catch on fire, remember to STOP, DROP and ROLL.


Though we hope that you may never have to encounter a situation that will need you to take these steps, it’s best to know what to do should a fire break out at home, and more importantly, take precautions to prevent fires from happening. With this knowledge, hopefully you will be able to keep your home and family members safe.

Found this article useful? Spread the knowledge with those you care about! Ever had a fire break out in your home? Tell us your experience or any other tips you may have in the comments below!

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1 very simple golden rule is to nail a hook near the window of every bedroom & hang the padlock key there. Strap a cute keychain to each key to make it noticeable.

The 2nd golden rule will be to have your immediate neighbours telephone nos  in your phone; advisable to label it as 'neighbour 1, neighbour 2; something easy to remember in times of panic. 'Look out for each others house' as the saying goes.

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Interactions with immediate neighbour. Something city folks often neglect in their busy lives. 

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Come to think of it, this is like a wake up call. My window grill is locked and I have no idea where they keys are!!! Didn't realised it's importance until this.

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@veron 

Even if you know where your keys are located... It is prudent to try and unlock with the keys occasionally... Just to make sure it WILL work during emergencies.