PETALING JAYA: As ovens and stoves fire up in preparation for Hari Raya Aidilfitri in a few weeks, fire safety advocates and authorities are advising caution to prevent everything from going up in flames.
Malaysian Fire Protection Association president Michelle Hah said based on government data, on average, a fire happens every 24 minutes with an average loss of RM5bil a year.
She believed that during festive seasons, there is a 60% increase in fires caused by electrical faults and a 20% increase in fires from cooking gas leaks.
On the first, she said: “This is due to overloading that happens when more electronics or lights are plugged into sockets to celebrate the festivities.”
Hah said it was important to understand what the maximum voltage of electrical sockets are, to reduce the risk of fires.
“It is also important to ensure that the electrical products used are Sirim-approved to ensure that they have gone through the appropriate testing to be used safely by the public, ” she said, referring to the national standards body.
She added that an increase of cooking at home during festive seasons also leads to more cooking gas related fires.
Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said fires also tend to happen in kitchens because of fatigue.
“The cook might be tired and this can cause him or her to be careless, ” he said.
Both safety advocates also urged Malaysians to brush up on their fire safety skills and have a fire extinguisher at home to prevent loss of either property or lives.
According to Fire and Rescue Department statistics, firefighters received 24,810 calls about fires between January and June last year, 597 of which were caused by electrical faults while 148 happened in kitchens.
Only four fires in that period incidents were caused by firecrackers or fireworks.
Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid also urged extra caution both in the kitchen and during family outings during Hari Raya.
He advised those cooking to be careful with their use of electricity, gas and cooking oil, and families who prefer to go to recreational areas such as beaches and waterfalls during the Hari Raya to look out for each other.
“Our statistics show that 70% of drowning victims are those between nine and 39 years old, so please keep an eye out for each other – no one wants a joyous day to end in tragedy, ” he said.
Mohammad Hamdan also said only 20% of Bomba personnel will be allowed to go on leave for Hari Raya and a 9,000-strong nationwide team will be prepared to move into action from 322 fire stations across the country.
Fire and Rescue Department operations director Datuk Nor Hisham Mohammad also advised those decorating their homes for Hari Raya to select lights that meet valid safety standards and be careful with their electrical connections.