What to do in the event of a fire at home?

Thursday | 29/09/2022

If there’s a fire, you need to act quickly. Make sure you are prepared and that everyone in your house knows exactly what to do. Alert everyone – make sure everyone in the house knows about the fire – shout, bang on doors, check rooms if it is safe to do so and get everyone together. If possible, close the door of the room to contain the fire and smoke. Call 995.

Turn off the gas mains only if you can reach them. Activate the nearest fire alarm by using a sharp object to break the glass.

Evacuate from the building using the stairs. Do not use the lift. Do not return to the building until authorities announce that it is safe to do so.

If you are in a super high-rise residential building with more than 40 storeys and too far from the ground floor, you can evacuate to the “refuge floor” – a special floor that serves as a safe holding area so that residents do not have to travel many floors down to leave the building in case of a fire.

The refuge floor is identified by a sign that reads “evacuee holding area” on the wall immediately outside the staircase and inside the staircase.

Only attempt to put out the fire if you are trained and it is safe to do so, said Mr Tan.

If there is an oil fire in the kitchen, do not pour water into the cookware, advised SCDF. Turn off the gas supply immediately and use a lid or wet cloth to cover the cookware.

If there is a dropped light fire, these can be put out with buckets of water, a fire extinguisher, a hose reel or even a domestic hose, said SCDF.

  • don’t delay to save valuables or look for pets
  • don’t investigate the fire
  • crawl on the floor if there’s smoke – the air is cleaner near the floor
  • on the floor, put your nose as low as possible – remember, smoke is toxic and can kill you
  • as you go out, only open the doors you need to and close any open doors you can to slow the spread of the fire
  • feel doors with the back of your hand before you open them, if they’re warm, don’t open them – the fire is on the other side
  • if you’re escaping with others, stay together if you can


As a rule of thumb, it is safe for occupants to stay put in their homes with the windows and doors closed – unless they stay on the same floor as the fire or two floors above it, said SCDF.

Those who live on the fire floor and two floors immediately above will be evacuated.

If you are above the fire floor, close all windows before evacuating to prevent smoke and heat from getting in, said Mr Tan.

If in doubt, it is best to evacuate from a fire rather than stay put, he added.

Even if the fire cannot be seen from where you are, it is safer to escape as you do not know how the situation will develop.


Smoke inhalation injuries typically outnumber burn injuries in fires, according to SCDF’s Civil Defence Emergency Handbook.

To prevent this, cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth and avoid inhaling through your mouth. Get down on the ground and crawl under the smoke when evacuating.


  • Don’t run around – you will fan the flames and make them burn faster
  • Lying down makes it harder for the fire to spread and reduces the effect of flames on your face and head – flames burn upwards
  • Smother the flames – cover the flames with heavy material, like a coat or blanket; this blocks the fire’s supply of oxygen
  • Roll around – rolling smothers the flames

Don’t go back in You should find somewhere safe to wait near the building. If there is someone still inside wait for SCDF to arrive; you can tell them about the person and they will be able to find them quicker than you. If you go back into the building, you will slow down the firefighters efforts to rescue anyone else missing – and put your own life in danger.

*Source CNA

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