On July 22, a flat in Ang Mo Kio was completely destroyed and two next-door units damaged after a personal mobility device (PMD) exploded. The e-scooter was left charging in the kitchen unattended in the morning, and burst into flames in the afternoon.

The charred remains of the Ang Mo Kio flat, where an escooter burst into flames while charging. Photo: Chong Jun Liang for The Straits Times

While nobody was seriously injured (thankfully), the incident isn’t an anomly. According to a Straits Times report, it’s the third PMD-related fire within a month, and the second in a week. The previous incident in Bukit Batok led to the death of a 40-year-old man.

To put things into perspective, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) says that 74 PMD-linked fires were reported last year, a 51 per cent increase from 2017.

With personal mobility devices such as electric scooters and power-assisted bikes becoming more popular, the number of fires caused by such devices has also grown significantly.

Preliminary investigations into the cause of the fire indicate it was from a personal mobility device placed in the kitchen, the Singapore Civil Defence Force said. Photo: Chong Jun Liang for The Straits Times
The fire destroyed the kitchen and had to be extinguished with a water jet. Photo: Chong Jun Liang for The Straits Times

Follow these 10 safety precautions of keeping and charging your PMD at home and prevent a fire from occurring:

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1. Buy PMDs with the UL2272 Certification Mark. Refer to LTA’s website for more information.

2. Use a power adaptor that carries the Safety Mark and is recommended by the manufacturer.

3. Charge the PMD in a cool room or shaded area and on a hard, flat surface to allow heat to be optimally dissipated.

4. Buy PMDs from reputable sources and make sure the devices comply with LTA’s safety requirements.

5. Regularly examine batteries for any damage or deformity such as bloating, corrosion or powdery residue.

Photo: 123RF

Do not…

6. Charge a PMD or its batteries near combustible materials or along an escape path.

7. Leave charging devices/batteries unattended for an extended period of time or overnight.

8. Charge the device immediately after use. Charging the battery when it is hot may cause damage.

9. Tamper with or modify the PMD, or try to repair it on your own. Send it to a qualified serviceman if repairs are needed.

10. Charge the device if it is wet, to prevent short circuits.

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What to do when a fire breaks out:

– Do not panic; shout to alert others.
– Evacuate and close the door, if possible, to contain the fire.
– Dial 995 for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
– Turn off the gas mains if you can reach them.
– When evacuating the building, use the stairs and do not use the lift.
– Fight the fire only if you are able to do so without endangering yourself and others.

Stay safe, folks!


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Text: The Straits Times & Elizabeth Liew