People living in apartments face several challenges when dealing with a fire. Everyone in the apartment building should know how to prevent fires, how to escape fires, and how to help keep fellow residents safe. Here are some important tips to prevent and escape apartment fires:
- Be familiar with the fire protection system in your building. Each protection system depends on where and when the complex was built. Apartment complexes with a sprinkler system provide an additional way to extinguish fires at the right time. Moreover, most apartment buildings also have fire alarm pull stations for alerting other residents that there is a fire.
- Make sure your apartment is equipped with smoke alarms. For increased safety, the alarms should be interconnected, so that all alarms will sound if one is activated. The property owners may be responsible for the smoke alarms, but you should ensure your own safety. Test the alarms once a month and check that the alarms are not older than 10 years. Remember: it is illegal to remove, damage, or disable a smoke alarm.
- All apartment complexes should have fire extinguishers. Learn where the fire extinguishers are, how to access them, how to use them, and when to use them. Never attempt to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher if that puts your life in danger and/or if you don’t know how to use one.
- Cooking is the number one cause of fires in homes. Never leave food unattended on the stove.
- Never store flammable substances, such as propane tanks or gas cans, in your apartment.
- Supervise space heaters and place them at least three feet away from flammable materials.
- Check electrical cords for appliances and replace those that are frayed or cracked.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach and sight of children.
- Don’t smoke in the bedroom or leave lit cigarettes unattended.
- Keep hallways clear — don’t keep shoes, floor mats or other items.
- Everyone in the family should be familiar with the building’s evacuation plan. Participate when your building drills take place.
- Learn the best escape routes — know how many levels the complex has, the nearest exits, and the location of staircases.
- Practice escaping through these routes. Stay low when moving to avoid breathing in smoke.
- If the escape routes are blocked by fire or smoke, practice sealing yourself in for safety. Close the door and stay by the window; use a flashlight or a light colored cloth to signal to firefighters.
- If you have small pets, purchase a carrier to be able to take them with you. If you have a dog, keep a leash at the ready.
Fires can get out of control very quickly, usually in less than 30 seconds. Thus, it is important to get out as fast as you can. Never go back inside unless the fire department informs you that it is safe to do so. Learn more tips for creating a fire escape plan here. For professional fire damage repair or smoke remediation service, contact your local PuroClean office.