What to do when a fire breaks out? How to prevent fires in homes? Some tips from SCDF

A girl attempts to put out a flaming wok with a fire extinguisher during a SCDF demonstration at the Tanjong Pagar Plaza on Oct 18, 2014. ST PHOTO: DESMOND LUI
A girl attempts to put out a flaming wok with a fire extinguisher during a SCDF demonstration at the Tanjong Pagar Plaza on Oct 18, 2014. ST PHOTO: DESMOND LUI

Following a fire on Monday at a flat in Block 3, Telok Blangah Crescent that killed a 77-year-old man, The Straits Times asked the Singapore Civil Defence Force for tips on what to do in the event of a fire, and how to prevent a fire from taking place in a residential unit.

Here's what the Singapore Civil Defence Force said:

What to do when a fire breaks out

• Do not panic

• Alert others of the fire by shouting

• Evacuate the room/area and try to get everyone out of the premises without endangering yourself

• If possible, close the door of the affected room to contain the fire

• Dial 995 for the SCDF

• Turn off gas mains if you can reach them

• Activate the fire alarm at the nearest manual call point

• Evacuate the building in an orderly manner via the stairs; do not use the lift

• Do not return to the building until the authorities announce that it is safe to do so

Should I help to fight the fire?

• Fight the fire only if you are able to and without endangering yourself and others. Ways of extinguishing a fire include:

• Using water on burning papers, wood and fabrics but never on flammable liquids such as oil, as this will cause the fire to spread

• Using a suitable fire extinguisher

• Using a hose reel

What should I do if I'm trapped in a smoke-logged room?

• Cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth and avoid inhaling through the mouth

• Get down, keep close to the ground and crawl towards the point of escape under the smoke

What if I can't get out of my house?

• Enter a safe room, preferably one which has open windows, good ventilation and overlooks a road.

• Shut the door behind you and seal the gap beneath the door with a blanket, rug or other fabrics to prevent smoke from

entering the room.

• Go to the window, shout for help to alert others of the fire and dial 995 for the SCDF if you are able to.

• Stay calm and do not attempt to jump out of the building.

If your clothes catch fire, Stop, Drop, and Roll

• Stop running and remain calm.

• Drop to the floor immediately.

• Roll over from side to side while covering your face with your hands to smother the flames.

General fire safety tips - Residential premises

Discarded Items

1. Do not leave unwanted furniture and items at common areas such as corridors, lift lobbies, void decks and staircases.

2. Arrange with your Town Council or Management Office if you require assistance for the disposal of unwanted bulky items such as cupboards, sofas, etc.

3. If you notice discarded items at the common areas, please alert your local Town Council or Management Office.

Rubbish Chutes/Bins

1. Completely extinguish lighted cigarettes before disposal into rubbish chutes/bins.

2. Douse charcoal embers with water before disposal into rubbish chutes/bins.

3. Avoid throwing flammable substances like paint, oil or kerosene into rubbish chutes/bins.


1. Never leave cooking unattended as it can result in fires. Turn off the gas supply and cooking appliances whenever they are not in use.

2. Petrol or kerosene should not be used to start a BBQ fire - they can flare up unexpectedly. Use fire-starters instead.

3. Never leave the barbecue unattended. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case of emergencies.

4. Charcoal should be doused with water when cooking is done.

5. Keep cooking appliances including the stove-top, cooker hoods and ovens clean and free of greases.

Electrical Appliances

1. Never overload electrical outlets with electrical appliances.

2. Always switch off appliances when they are not in use.

3. Check the condition of wires regularly. Frayed wires or cracked cords should be replaced or repaired by licensed electricians.

4. Do not run wires under carpets or mats and keep them away from hot surfaces.


1. Keep matches, lighters and candles out of children's reach.

2. Store flammable substances in a safe place.

3. Do not place window curtains or any combustible materials near praying altars, stoves or lighted materials.

4. After parties or gatherings, check for smouldering cigarette butts around and under the sofa, chair cushions and carpets.

5. Lit candles should also be kept away from paper or cardboard decorations, foliage, curtains and furnishings. They should be placed in stable holders on heat-resistant surface so that they will not fall over. It is also not advisable to leave candles burning in a room unattended.

Decorations and Lightings

1. Check the decorative lighting fixtures before use and regularly thereafter. Blown bulbs and frayed wires should be replaced using the service of licensed electricians for repairs, if necessary.

2. Do not leave decorative lighting fixtures switched-on when leaving home or when going to bed. Indoor lighting fixtures should not be used in outdoor area to avoid electric shocks and short circuits.

3. Use decorative lighting fixtures which carry the SAFETY Mark. Similar to electrical appliances such as fans, decorative lighting fixture is also a Controlled Good under the Consumer Protection (Safety Requirements) Registration Scheme, which is administered by SPRING Singapore.

4. Decorations made of light tissue paper or cardboard burn easily. Do not attach them to lights or other heat source, and always keep them away from candles.

Handling Sparklers

1. Sparklers should be kept in a closed box and away from flames.

2. When being used, it should be lit at arm's length and only one at a time. Children playing with sparklers must be supervised by parents/adults.

3. Lighted sparklers should never be thrown at combustible materials.

4. When a sparkler goes out, do not immediately touch the hot end for it could still burn. Ideally, put the hot end in a bucket of water to fully cool it down before disposing it safely.

5. Follow the safety instructions as stated by the manufacturer. These instructions are typically found on the box housing the sparkler.

  • Source: Singapore Civil Defence Force Emergency Handbook

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.