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My house burned down in the middle of the night. Here's what I wish I knew

My house burned down in the middle of the night. Here's what I wish I knew
PHOTO: Pixabay

From leaving candles unattended, to misusing appliances, or even smoking inside the bedroom, most house fires take place when people are not alert. But a lot of these unfortunate accidents can also be prevented by identifying fire hazards in the home, as one woman recently found out.

She took to Reddit to share that her entire house was burnt to the ground in the middle of the night. The intention behind her post was to share her learnings with others and what she wished she knew before the unfortunate incident happened. 

'I really want to share what I wish I knew before it happened'

“A couple days go, our house burned down. It was in the middle of the night and a complete basic freak accident. We lost everything we owned,” she started. 

The mum and her entire family were fortunate to have survived the raging fire. But the horrific experience of seeing her house in flames has been etched in her mind forever. 

“I’ve learnt so much from this experience and I really want to share what I wish I knew before it happened,” she shared. 

She then went on to list her learnings to help others avoid making the same mistakes. 

1. Practice fire drills

  • She urged families to come up with exit plans and practice at night time and in the daytime. 
  • Practice until everyone in the family is comfortable with the plan and okay to get out in case of an actual fire.
  • Get out immediately and safely, don’t grab anything.

The user further shared that things might not turn out as per the plan. For instance, when her nine-year-old was woken up and told about the fire, his first reaction was to hide in the room. He was in a semi-awake state where he figured it was just a dream and wanted shelter.

2. 'Go out with your kids'

The mum emphasised in bold letters that in case of a fire inside the house, “Make sure you go out with your kids.”

She had told her kids (aged eight and nine) to go downstairs and out the door once she was sure there was no fire there. Her kids were waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. “They were scared. They didn’t want to go outside in the middle of the night without a parent,” she wrote.

So, she urged other parents: “Don’t rely on your children to go outside alone.”

3. Don’t let kids watch the house burn down

Taking a leaf out of this horrific experience she urged parents to never allow children to watch the house burn down.

She said, ”If you can avoid it, don’t watch it yourself. It’s traumatic. Ask a neighbour to keep them, a grandparent to pick them up, anything. You don’t want them to go through the whole set of emotions of seeing everything they own being burnt. “

Health experts suggested not to go back to the scene with the kids and definitely not go inside, she said. 

4. Consult with professionals

It is a very traumatic event to go through and the mum, suggested to consult professionals and go for therapy if needed.

5. People with pets, take note

She also added that families with pets must remind the firefighters about them and watch over till they are evacuated. “Each firefighter that goes inside, tell them about the pet that is stuck inside,” she said.

Unfortunately, all her pets (two cats and two parrots) died. It was a big fire, so firefighters didn’t make it a priority to save the pets. But they also told the mum that they didn’t know where their pets were during the fire. 

6. Accept help from others

The mum also advised that it is important to accept help from others and not try to be normal as quickly as possible. “Take the time to process what happened,” she said. 

7. Invest in fireproof safes

She spoke about the need for keeping fireproof safes inside the house. “All my cards, wallet, passport, certificates are burnt,” she stated. 

She concluded by saying that it took just 10 minutes for the fire to reach the roof and the walls. By then, it was all collapsing.

“We also are very lucky to have gotten great support from family, friends and people we know. We’re so thankful and I honestly cannot wait for the day that I can give back and help others. Fires happen. Freak accidents happen. Prevent it, but also prepare for the worst,” she added. 

The mum further urged people to not sleep naked and always keep a robe near them at night. 

Here’s how netizens reacted to her post 

Others mums thanked the user for sharing her experience. There were some who relived their horrific moments through her post. 

'Hiding from fire is dangerous'

One user wrote, “I am so very sorry. As a firefighter family, I’m going to tell you children hiding from fire is a leading cause of death. Kids don’t go outside, and they don’t follow plans. What they do is, they will just go and hide. Unfortunately, they are found dead under beds and in closets.”

'Schools should have firefighter day'

This mum brought up a very valid point. She said that schools need to have a firefighter day, where volunteers come to schools and educate the kids about fire safety norms.

In 2020, there were 184 fire injuries in Singapore. This is an increase from 142 in 2019. According to SCDF, fires caused by electrical origin was the leading cause of all fires. It accounted for 545 or 29 per cent of all fires in 2020. Fires due to overheating of food was the next highest cause with 416 cases. 

4 major fire hazards in the home 

While it is important to be mindful and alert, it is also important to be wary of the common causes of fire inside the home. Here are the top four items that often lead to such disasters. 

1. Open candles

Candles can beautify your room, but a lit candle is also an open flame and so it is also a potential fire hazard if its not monitored carefully. In fact, most candle fires can be avoided if you follow some basic safety precautions. 

  • Never leave any unattended candles in your home
  • Always blow the candles out before you go to bed or leave the room
  • Keep the candles away from anything that can burn like paper or cotton or clothes
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t fall easily

2. Unattended cooking

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the number one cause of home fires. So, here’s how to avert them:

  • Don’t leave the gas unattended when you are cooking
  • Keep hot pads, oven mitts and wooden utensils away from any heat source
  • Never place metal in a microwave oven

3. Faulty electrical appliances

Electrical fires usually take place when equipment malfunctions. Here are some precautions that you can take:

  • Always replace or repair damaged appliances
  • Never overload circuits
  • Keep additional circuits or outlets active, so you don’t have to use extension cords
  • Make sure to perform an annual checkup of your home’s wiring by a good electrician

4. Smoking

Smoking materials like cigarettes or pipes are the leading cause of fire deaths across the world. Therefore, following these precautions can help prevent a fire-related disaster. 

  • Don’t smoke inside your home
  • Before you throw away butts or even the ashes, make sure they are doused with water or sand
  • Always keep matchboxes and lighters out of your kid’s reach

Finally, make it a point to have your kids memorise emergency numbers, like yours, or for instance, 995 for any fire-related emergency in Singapore. Make a safety plan, practice the fire drills often and stay alert to avert any unforeseen accidents.

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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