All new homes to be equipped with smoke detectors from June 2018

According to new regulations in Singapore, all new homes will be required to have smoke detectors installed from June 2018 onwards.

Benedict Koh, president of the Fire Safety Managers’ Association shares that while Singaporeans have been urged to voluntarily install fire extinguishers and fire alarms in their homes for years now, take up rates have been low.

What kind of smoke detector should homeowners purchase?

The smoke detector of choice is a battery-powered device that can quickly detect smoke from burning fabric or furniture. Once smoke is detected, the device will alert residents accordingly.

Battery Operated Smoke Detector. Picture: Firestore

A basic version of the device will cost between $60 to $80, and an additional $50 for installation. According to the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF), the authorities will work in tandem with grassroots leaders to provide financial assistance for needy households to pay for these devices.

Where to install the smoke detector?

Living room. Designed by Altered Interior

Ideally, homeowners should have one smoke detector in every room (except the kitchen to avoid false smoke detection while cooking).

That being said, smoke detectors are not cheap and having one in each room can incur high costs — it is thus recommended for homeowners to install at least one smoke detector in their homes.

Are smoke detectors necessary?

Just last year, about 2,800 fires (two-thirds of fire cases) took place in homes — this is exactly why the authorities are looking to increase fire safety standards using these new regulations. With regards to the effectiveness of these devices, there is ample evidence to prove that smoke detectors do result in a positive and significant impact.

For example, in the United States, the death rate associated with fires in homes with smoke detectors was less than half the amount as compared to homes without smoke detectors.

What other ways can you keep your home fire safe?

  • After installing the smoke detectors, test them regularly and switch the batteries out every six months.
  • Make sure your family recognises the sound made by the smoke detector (this would be particularly important for households with elderly folks who might not be able to hear as clearly)
  • Be careful cooking, and never let the kids cook without adult supervision
  • Don’t smoke in bed, and don’t light candles near your bed or curtains too.
  • Replace worn-out electrical cords, and don’t overload power outlets with too many plugs at a time.

What if a fire breaks out?

In the event a fire does take place at home, keep calm and do not panic. Alert all family members immediately, and shut the door of the affected room so that the fire is contained (if possible). Once that is done, evacuate the area via the stairs (do not take the lift), and dial 995 for the SCDF.

Do not pause to gather your belongings, and do not attempt to return to the building until it has been cleared by the authorities.

If you have a fire extinguisher and/or a hose reel nearby, use this only if you are confident of fighting the fire without endangering yourself. If the fire is out of control, or you find yourself having breathing difficulties due to the smoke in the air, do not attempt to fight the fire and evacuate the building immediately.

Most Singaporeans are quick to dismiss fires at home as something that is unlikely to happen to them, but it pays to be prepared in the event of an actual emergency.

Sure, the smoke detector might set you back a good hundred dollars or so, but it’s certainly a small price to pay in exchange for (touchwood) the safety of you and your family.

So be sure to put installing the smoke detector at the top of your to-do list when you move into your brand new home!