By Joseph Wong
Now that everyone is at home with the movement control order (MCO) in place, it is far more imperative that you have a proper fire drill for your family. This is more vital for those living in high-rise residential units.
In fact, you need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. You risk yours and your family’s lives if you do not know the fire safety features in your building and what to do during a fire.Statistics show that nearly 60% of all fires happened in residential abodes. So it will be a good idea to work out an escape plan if a fire unfortunately happens.
Work out a plan
Tall buildings have more than one fire escape, usually one of each end of a block. Make sure you and your family know where the escape routes are. Residents of lower levels and those living higher up can have different escape plans. So make sure your family know which plan to follow.
Unfortunately in Malaysia, high-rise residential buildings, unlike commercial ones, do not have automated Sprinkler system systems as this is not required by law. So having a couple of fire extinguishers in your home is a good idea. Knowing where the building management places fire-fighting equipment is a must. Some buildings have fire extinguishers, and others have pressurised water hoses, so make sure you know where they are. Of course, make sure you know how to use them. Make sure the emergency services numbers are close at hand as a phone call may just save your life as well as your family’s.
Fire drills are a must
All building have fire alarms so make sure you and your family are prepared to respond to a fire alarm. Every management building is required to hold fire drills so make sure your family participates in them so they will know how to escape during such an emergency evacuation. If the stairwells are filled with smoke, opt for the other fire escape. If both are filled with smoke, stay in your apartment and wait for the firefighters.
Avoid the lifts
In case of fire, always use the stairs. Why? If you are caught in a lift and smoke fills up the elevator shaft, you are likely to suffocate and die. Smoke from a fire is toxic and deadly no matter what kind of structure you live in. More people are killed by succumbing to smoke than from the actual fire itself. So stay low when evacuating the apartment when you and your family are caught in a smoke-filled area.
Seal up your apartment
If you can’t exit an apartment building due to smoke or fire in the hallway, call the fire department or building management to report your exact location. People need to know where you are if they are to rescue you and your family.
To ensure smoke doesn’t enter your unit, use adhesive tape to seal the gaps around your door. Stay near the windows where you can be spotted. Use a bright piece of cloth to catch the firemen’s attention or a flashlight at night.
Douse the fire
If the fire is still a small one, douse the fire with a fire extinguisher or with water. Don’t let a small fire grow into a big uncontrollable one. In the event of electrical fires, avoid water as it conducts electricity which could kill you faster. It is also essential to teach your children not to play with fire. Quite a number of fires are a result of this.