You know how people say it’s better to be safe than sorry? There’s a good reason for that. We’ve heard of numerous cases of tragic HDB fires in the last couple of years – accidents like these can easily occur in under a minute, and all it takes is a small gas leak or overloaded power point.
If that scares the daylights out of you, take heart in knowing that there are active steps you can take to safeguard your home against fires. Here are 9 simple ways you can go about fireproofing your crib.
1. Choose fire-resistant materials for your curtains and furniture
Here’s a thing or two to know about fabrics and fire: Natural fibres such as cotton and silk are typically more flammable than synthetic fibres which are harder to catch on fire.
While it’s difficult for most materials to be completely fire resistant, one can opt for fabrics that are less flammable such as wool, polyester and nylon and have been treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
Otherwise, minimising the amount of rugs and carpets one has at home might also help to reduce the risk of furniture catching fire.
In the furniture department, it would be smart to choose furniture made of metal, glass, marble, granite and ceramic. These are natural materials that are not flammable and aren’t likely to be “fuel” to any fire that might start.
2. Ensure all doors are fire-rated
Image credit: @prettythings_home
If you’re a HDB dweller, you’re probably familiar with the term “fire-rated door” since HDB specifies that all front doors that are installed have to have such a rating to prevent the spread of fire and smoke to the rest of the house or external corridor.
For maximum safety, go beyond just having your front door fire-rated, and have every door in the house fire-rated. Spending a little extra on that to ensure your loved ones’ safety can make all the difference in the unfortunate event of a fire.
With that in mind, one can also prevent such accidents from happening by taking precautions such as refraining from smoking indoors. Potential fire hazards like cigarettes should be extinguished well and discarded carefully to avoid sparking fires in the communal rubbish chute.
3. Install a smoke or fire detector
Image credit: Birdi
While smoke detectors have been implemented as a mandatory feature in all new HDB homes since 2018, other private homeowners can also choose to install smoke or fire detectors if they do not have one in their own homes.
These devices can help you quickly detect a fire in your home, if there is one. They’re also pretty affordable – you can purchase a functional and durable one from just S$15.90. Top tip: do make sure to maintain and test them every now and then to make sure they’re working!
4. Use power strips and surge protectors
Image credit: CM Regent
It might be stating the obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many homeowners are guilty of overloading their electrical sockets and leaving their electrical appliances running and unattended.
Instead of buying any old multi-purpose plug from the mama shop in your void deck, put in some extra effort to check that the electrical product you’re buying is “surge protected”. This means that your multi-purpose plug limits the amount of electricity travelling to your electronics.
Checking for faulty wires and overloaded power points can prevent them from sparking and creating an electrical fire.
5. Opt for induction cookers in your kitchen Switch off gas stoves when not in use – or just opt for an induction cooker
Induction cookers are a much safer alternative to the traditional gas stove, for a number of reasons. Gas leaks are perhaps the most commonly-known cause of kitchen fires. In an enclosed space like our homes, a simple spark or flame can easily ignite the natural gas that leaks into the air.
Comparatively, induction cookers produce an open flame, which means one runs a greater risk of physical burns when coming close to them. There’s also a greater chance that nearby materials and fabrics might be ignited if they come into contact with the open flames.
Lastly, gas stoves emit harmful gases like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, which are harmful to you and your loved ones if inhaled over prolonged periods of time. On the other hand, induction cookers do not produce such byproducts and do not require as much ventilation.
6. Plan an escape route in your home
Regardless of the type of residence you reside in, plan an escape route and even consider doing mini fire drills in anticipation of an accident. Not only should this plan cover how one can utilise the nearest fire extinguisher, but it should also teach them how to locate the exit staircase.
Remember – do not panic, evacuate everyone from the site if there’s a fire, and call 995. Evacuate from the stairs and not the lift. If your clothes catch fire, follow SCDF’s “Stop, Drop, Roll” steps.
Image credit: Visit Singapore
For HDBs like The Pinnacle @ Duxton that are more than 40 storeys tall, residents who reside in higher floors can make their way to the “refuge floor” which is a safe holding area between floors.
On top of that, one can tweak their home’s layout by opting for a more open-concept design. By arranging furnishing and partitions so that access to the escape routes are not obstructed, it will ensure that one can easily and safely exit their home during an emergency.
7. Declutter your home – both inside and outside
Image credit: @randomcheryl
It isn’t news that the local authorities are strict with their enforcement of corridor clutter – with good reason. Clutter makes it easier for fire to spread and is also a major obstacle to fire escape routes and staircases. As a result, Clutter might help a fire to spread and might even hinder the escape of neighbours and SCDF personnel in the event of a fire.
It is also strongly advised for HDB residents to refrain from arranging too many potted plants and personal belongings at their doorstep, as the walkways are often very compact and cramped. Dried or withered plants are also especially flammable.
8. Keep chemicals and other combustible substances out of direct sunlight
Store flammable liquids in a dry, cool area. It is also best to keep them away from direct sunlight, gas stoves and ovens. Substances you should look out for include oil paint, nail polish remover, hand sanitiser, and aerosols.
9. Purchase a home fire extinguisher
In a joint effort by SCDF, HDB, Temasek Foundation, and the various town councils to encourage fire safety practices among locals, fire extinguishers are placed at the lift lobbies of one in every 2 HDB blocks.
In most condominium complexes, residents should also be able to locate one near their fire escape or lift lobby. If not, residents can purchase a 1KG portable fire extinguisher from just S$33.15. There are even cheaper and smaller options for home fire extinguishers available on Shopee for as little as S$14.90.
Additionally, SCDF has been raising fire safety awareness and literacy among residents, such as on how to use fire extinguishers, through programmes such as the Community Emergency Preparedness Programme and Community Resilience Days.
Making your home extra safe for you and your loved ones
As you can see, fireproofing your home can be as simple as making small changes to your daily habits and practices. Other than taking the necessary steps to prevent such incidents, one can opt to get insurance to cover any damages or losses due to a fire. Finally, during emergencies, dial 995 for ambulance and rescue.
Check out the following for more home and living tips:
- How to pet-proof your HDB
- 7 design tips to improve your kitchen’s Feng Shui
- 7 tips for renting in Singapore
Cover image adapted from : Birdi