Toyo Ito
Arming yourself with good facts is the best way of fighting or even preventing fires

If smoke gets in your eyes, there is definitely nothing romantic about it because it spells of a fire. Smoke travels faster than the flames of a fire and causes more harm due to the high levels of toxicity. Gas particles that travel along with the smoke will spark off fires on flammable objects, and even hair.

As a matter of fact, more victims are killed by smoke than the fire itself.

Those were some of the astonishing facts that tenants and staff learnt at the fire prevention talk organised by CapitaLand. “Caring for the health and well-being of CapitaLand staff and stakeholders is a top priority. The company is particularly vigilant when it comes to ensuring workplace safety,” said Mr Tan Seng Chai, Group Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited.

Conducted by Mr Jeffrey Tan from the Fire Prevention Centre, the talk shed light on the realities of fire hazards, preventive measures and survival techniques. Brimming with statistics, case studies, and videos from real life incidents, participants were visibly engaged and responded spontaneously when the speaker quizzed them.

Lee Yoke Fun, Finance Executive from CapitaLand Limited felt that she benefited from the lively talk. “There are some issues on home safety that I haven’t thought of before and I learnt about the unexpected things at home that might cause fire, such as the television that is usually left on standby mode,” said Lee.

As a part of stakeholder engagement, tenants were also invited for the talk. “The talk was very informative, and it is very helpful of CapitaLand to organise such events,” said Mr Lee, a tenant of Capital Tower.

Red Alert 1

Never douse electric fire with water

While causes of fire range from negligence to accidents and acts of mischief, the top killer in most fires is electric fire. Electric fires are usually caused by power overloading, short circuits as well as the condition or quality of the products and equipment. A common misconception is to douse the fire with water. But this will cause the fire to get larger as water conducts electricity. Instead, a fire extinguisher should be used.

Red Alert 2

Flip off the switch

Electric fire can be prevented by simply switching off the main power when not in use and avoid leaving anything to charge overnight. Fire at night have resulted in higher fatalities, as people are least guarded in their sleep.

Red Alert 3

Study the evacuation plan

With the knowledge of fire prevention, the next step should be to come up with or look out for an evacuation plan. There was a guilty silence when the speaker asked if anyone checked their hotel’s evacuation plan during holidays. It is important to not take things lightly during peaceful times and to be always prepared for emergency.

Red Alert 4

Plan to escape

Should a fire occur and you can still escape, you should wet your body and cover yourself with a wet thick blanket. Then hold on to the railing as you move down the staircase as smoke travels upwards.Never take the elevator and do not run in a moment of panic.However, if you are unable to escape, you should go into a room or enclosed space, close the door and place a piece of cloth under the gap of the door to prevent smoke from entering. Remember to turn off all electricity to avoid any fire from sparking off. Finally, call 995 or 999 (number in Singapore) for rescue and provide important information such as your name, address and the number of people trapped.

Red Alert 5

Don’t leave discarded items lying around

More than 4,000 cases of fires happened in Singapore in 2011, of which almost 70 per cent happened at homes. So if you think that your home is a safe haven, think again. Are there fire hazards lying around? Do not leave discarded items around and block fire exits. Also, make sure that there are no obstructions to fire fighting equipment.

Red Alert 6

Be equipped

It is also recommended that every household should have these items for basic fire safety: smoke alarm, pocket smoke mask, fire extinguisher and a torch light.

Everyone was particularly impressed with a case that the speaker shared about. A refrigerator had caught fire at home while the domestic helper sneaked out, leaving an eight-year-old child alone to fend for himself. He used the fire extinguisher to put the fire out, and then calmly called his father to buy a new refrigerator on his way home!

“I didn’t expect kids to remain so calm.” exclaimed Mr Lee, a tenant of Capital Tower. “This shows that training must be in place to guide them. I will also train my child on how to operate the fire extinguisher.”

Idahwati Binte Rais, Central Registry Executive, CapitaLand Limited shared that the visuals and photos shared by the speaker jolted her into action. “I went home and checked that all my electrical equipment were turned off when unused and whether they were certified safe. I also checked that my multi-plug adaptors were not overloaded.”

Armed with the valuable knowledge shared during the fire prevention talk, perhaps everyone would be able to face a fire more calmly now. However, it would be best to actively play our part in fire prevention so that none would even occur in the first place.