October 4th – 10th is Fire Safety Week, so we’ve assembled a list of important things to keep in mind when preventing fires, planning escape strategies, and responding quickly in the event of an apartment fire.
1. Practice Fire Prevention
One of the most important things you can do to prevent fires is to be proactive. Fortunately, there are a few simple tasks you can perform to save a lot of trouble. Smoking is the number one cause of fires, so make sure to put out your cigarettes completely, and to never smoke in bed. Another important tip is to avoid keeping any flammable liquids inside of your apartment, and to make sure that your matches and lighters are stowed out of reach of children. Lastly, make sure that you’re practicing safe electrical outlet protocol: don’t use frayed cords, overload your outlets, or keep liquids nearby.
2. Check Your Alarms Regularly
This seems obvious, but not many people actually check their smoke alarms that often. Make sure that they are plugged in, have working batteries, and aren’t obstructed or blocked by anything. It is recommended to have a fire alarm in every room of your apartment, so as to enable quick and reliable detection. You should test the alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
3. Have an Escape Plan
Most large apartment complexes and buildings will have fire exit plans posted near the elevator, but if you live in a smaller building, it may be mostly up to you to devise a quick exit strategy. Become familiar with all of the building’s exits, and test out different escape routes to find the quickest and easiest one. It is possible that the landlord has already laid out a few ideas, and you can consult with them on what your course of action should be. Whatever your plan may be, practice it as much as possible. Your escape plan should be second nature.
So what should you do in the event of an apartment fire?
If you can see, smell, or hear a fire, then it’s time to set your escape plan into motion. Don’t panic, take a deep breath. First you need to feel your door, particularly the doorknob: if it’s hot, then the fire is close, and you may need to consider another way to exit. If it’s cool, use that door and enact your exit strategy. Crawl on your hands and knees, as smoke rises and the air near the ground will be the cleanest. Remember to use the stairs no matter what, as an elevator cannot be trusted in the event of a fire. If you are unable to escape your room, try to seal off the door and vents with towels, and call for help from the window or with your phone.
The first thing you should do after moving to safety is call the police. Just a make a quick 911 call, give your address, and request a firetruck. You can even do this while you’re running out of the building. Getting firefighters to the building as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance; it will save the lives of others, and prevent additional property damage. It’s also important to note that you should never go back into a burning building.