Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Fire at Home - Sharing from Malaysia

Sharing some sort like a diary/journal of our experience with fire at home on Feb 3, 2014, the fire broke at dawn, 5-6am.

Two hours plus after the 6am fire at 8something am... Returned home and saw my mobile phone survived and started sending out messages to loved ones and family/friends:

Feb 3, 2014 - Monday. 4th day of CNY
Fire early in the morning at our home. We are saved by the baby crying. Siang put out the fire at living room faulty electrical point. Bomba (firemen) came n went. Today will be busy lodge police report n making insurance claim. Luckily we have baby Ray who woke us up....

Tentatively, for the cause, the fire department determined it is an old faulty socket/electrical plug point. Our house is bought second hand... 
And please all of us make it a point to install a fire extinguisher and also a smoke detector alarm because not everyone has a baby like Ray to wake them up... Most people die not because of the burning fire but the smoke that knock them unconscious....

UPDATE Feb 3, 2014, 10++pm....Malaysian time:
14 hours plus have passed since 6am this morning. We are like in a daze... Like we are walking in our dream... We had a fire at our home?!?
Been to police station, been to the fire department and will need to return tomorrow, need to settle insurance claim tomorrow, cleaning has not even started since we are NOT supposed to clean till the insurance adjusters come to assess the damages so we cannot sleep or stay at our soot-covered home for at least a few days... At my mom's home now, all three of us safe and sound. Maid was with my mom in Borneo for CNY and they just touched down in KL today. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE CONCERN AND WELL WISHES ON FB, pm, whatsapp, SMS, phone call to me and my family. We are truly touched. If it wasn't for baby Ray's cry and scream, we would not be alive...if it was just a few more seconds later, Our only exit out would be blocked... If it was just a few minutes more our three homes (including two neighbours' family) only exit would be blocked... If, if, if... We are truly blessed by the guardian angels and our little angel in the form of our son Ray. Our faces were all covered in soot, like we were just out from a coal mining cave or something... Ray was a champ and did not make any fuss the whole two hours we were downstairs while papa was upstairs putting out the fire and then making sure it doesn't continue... Papa (Siang) wanted to follow us out after we thought the fire was put out but then another stuff caught fire and he asked us to leave first... The security guard was very responsive and took good care of me and Ray in their rest room and the comfy sofa they offered to us... They offered us their walkie so we could communicate, us on ground zero and Siang on level 11... Been a really LONG day... 14 hours have passed, we are relatively unscathed and still dazed. Thank you all. 
We are truly grateful to be still breathing. Hugs.

Third Update (3-4am the next day after the fire):

Relatively unscathed. We still plan to go ahead and celebrate Ray's bday anyway cos life is worth celebrating!

And awake at this hour indicates a post traumatic stress of some sort for me I guess, and every single noise Ray makes woke me up now.. Talk about paranoia....

Anyway, it is 5am now and I better try to continue my zzz. Baby Ray has been having disturbed sleep tonight with at least once awakening each hour... I guess we are all having some sort of a trauma. Checks at the emergency department at a hospital nearby ruled out serious injuries/illness and we are supposed to be observing ourselves especially baby Ray for the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and coughing which are common symptoms after smoke inhalation in fire.

Things we learned in this short less than 24 hours, GOOD TO SHARE:

1. Invest in a smoke detector alarm, a couple hundred of Ringgit can save your life.

2. Invest in a fire extinguisher and make sure the fire extinguisher isn't past its expiry date. Not everyone has a lucky star in the form of our little angel Ray.

3. Do not stop and think to stop to save any material possessions when the fire is spreading. Every second counts between life and death. Make sure you go to sleep decent so you won't have to run out of your house naked. Seriously. No bra is still ok as long as you are covered by something besides a blanket.
When we were rudely awakened and overwhelmed by the smoke, hubby turned on the lights and we COULDN'T SEE ANYTHING THROUGH THE SMOKE. 
Lucky for us we were all conscious and Could hear the baby crying and voice which led me to him and I estimated his location and scooped him up in my arms and ran out past the burning fire out from our front door... A few seconds later might be a few seconds later too late. 
Of course 1001 things ran through my mind... What about my son's birth certificate and documents, what about my mobile phone to inform my family, what about this what about that... 
What about my son's formula milk and bottles, trust me, they all ran through my mind in that split second but my feet had a life of their own and took off with my baby in my arms. 
A mother's survival instinct or a human's survival instinct In a life and death situation. Hubby did what he could to prevent the fire from spreading and stayed back and asked us to seek help from the security guards at the condo/apartment guard post. That was the hardest decision for me to leave him alone in a smoke-filled house but what needs to be done needs to be done and off we went downstairs and was separated for nearly 2 hours until things cooled down, literally.

4. After the fire, don't clean up the mess. Two or three parties need to visit the site and take pictures for evidence for insurance claims/police/fire department report. Hotel stays are eligible for claims. We are putting up at my mother's place as I am typing this, thank goodness for family close by.

5. Make sure you renew your fire insurance. Shit happens, fire happens.

6. Practice safe electricity usage at home. Credits to Chan Chun Wai, my former student from public relations class for sharing this tip from among my over 120 comments on fb within 24 hours of the incident:
thanks god u n' ur family is safe.

some electrical tips to share around ppl here:
1) a single plug point is support up to 13amp current, around 3120 watts (+-10%)

2) don't attach multiple power strips (a.k.a extension) to a single plug point and run it with concurrently with high power consumption devices. Btw, power strip nowaday has very bad internal connection even it's NEW. 

3) even you have several plug points on the same wall, they might be connected parallelly to a same circuit breaker, which is support up to 20amp current, around 4800 watts max theoritically (it still depends on the thickness of the wire buried in the wall).

4) some plug points MAY NOT be properly installed or loose due to age (e.g: wire loose with the contact point), bad contact results plug point melting or spark may comes out. The burn mark gives you signal to replace it asap.

5) some electrical devices imported from China without SIRIM approval are not that safe to be used in Malaysia because they are designed to fit 220v voltage. (Malaysia adapt 240 voltage with +-10% tolerance)

6) etc, can't recall others.
End of Quote

7. Please don't use water or wet cloth to clean your house after fire. Clear the soot (uppermost layer of black ash/dirt) with a dry lint cloth or something or DRY clean them... Water makes them harder to clean if the soot is still there. For other smaller articles, soak them in washing detergent or even dish washer for one day and one night according to the internet resources we looked up in our dazed mode cos we were just too overwhelmed to see the damages/dirt/debris etc. For the skin... Hmmm this is after three times of washing with normal soap, my soot covered baby after 3 times of washing... 
And this is him already washed and changed into new clothes. You need to scrub and wash more than 3 times to regain your original skin complexion, that's for sure. Normal soap will do. I find that cheaper soap the ones in bar does the trick best. More fat components in them I guess, I dunno. Whatever works.

8. Get help. You will need all the help you can. I am glad I reached out and many offered support and words of encouragement and help/assistance. Google is a big help too.

Thank you all. Thanks to The Lord (God/Allah/Lord Buddha/higher Being) the guardian angels and our little angel in the form of our son, we are still a very much alive family.

Sue, proud mama of a heroic baby boy and proud wife to an equally heroic and responsible man she calls her husband.
~Truly Glad to be alive....

Update: Two days after the fire...
Feb 5, 2014 - 9am
Extent of damages:

Ceiling and walls needed scraping and repainting. Furniture that are burnt needed to be thrown away. Aquarium cracked and the water from the aquarium actually slowed down the fire, we suspected the fire started maybe at 5am and slowed down due to water from the aquarium, and by the time our house is filled with smoke it was nearly 6am when baby Ray alerted us. By then our lungs and nose and throat are filled with black soot already as we were sleeping.
Some floor tiles needed changing as they were cracked.
My mannequin (only one) for my baby/kids shop was burnt to a charred skeleton. 
Hubby's Targus laptop bag about USD100 was partially burnt, his laptop survived and just needed to replace the charger/adapter, his work data is saved.
The fire missed the flammables by a few cm, maybe one inch away from burning papers, one inch away from burning more fabrics (kain), one inch away from burning the baby daytime bed/mattress which will emit more toxic fumes, one inch away from many many things that will render us trapped in our own house... It was really a matter of IF it was a few Seconds more, we would not be alive today. We were truly blessed, we feel truly blessed and we truly believe our little family is blessed. 
Visiting the fire scene (we are staying at my mother's house for the time being), we looked through the place and saw how close, just HOW CLOSE IT WAS and things could be much worse if things continue for a few more seconds, Thank you to all the external forces and our good graces and baby Ray our little angel and all the unseen guardian angels at work. 
Insurance claim has been submitted, but we were told they only cover fittings and immovable objects and other stuff like furniture and appliances and belongings are considered NOT Covered by insurance.. Oh well... it has been a crazy past two days with LITTLE SLEEP as we fill up paperwork, run between the police station, fire department and management office and waiting for people to snap pix of our place, three different photo shoots, many other quotations from external parties needed... We are rendered homeless and cannot move back in for the next 2-4 weeks. Everywhere is still covered in soot/grease/ashes that whenever we visited our home, our nostrils will be black when we bathed later... The smell inside the house is still strong we turned on the Medikleen air steriliser one room at a time as we only had one working one as the rest had their wire/electric cable/plug burnt. 
We can't wait to return home but we can't for the next two weeks to a month... Anyway baby Ray's first birthday is coming up and we already pre booked his party venue so a thanksgiving party it will be, a celebration of live and to celebrate the joy and gratitude of being alive and well. Ray is truly our miracle baby from the beginning. 

Thank you all... We are slowly picking up the pieces now and still staying at my mother's spare room, thank Goodness for family nearby, and thank God for good caring friends.
End of update 9am, Feb 5, 2014, 2 days after the fire.

Update Feb 6, 2014 - finally the paperwork has been done, now we can start cleaning the house but any repair work can only start after insurance claim approval, which takes 14 days to process. We need to stay at my mom's place for at least a month before we can move back in. 
End of update for Feb 6, 2014

1 comment:

Pau B. said...

So glad you're safe! *hugs*