Fire Safety… Do You Know What To Do?
August 12, 2014
Responsibility for the fire safety of your building lies with each and every resident. It is important to learn the facts and know what to do in the event of a fire, or when you have a false alarm.
As part of your planning, explore your building. Know every possible exit, including exits from windows, doors, and basements. If hallways become smoky in a fire, your memory can help you find a way out. Remember never to use elevators in a fire. Keep exit and stairwell doors closed at all times, but not locked. And, keep exits clear of debris and storage. In a fire, there is no time to stop and think. You need to know in advance the quickest, safest ways out of your unit and your building. That is why it is critical that you make and practice escape plans. Draw up floor plans for each floor with exits clearly marked because in a fire, smoky conditions and urgency can make finding your way out impossible. Once you’ve mapped out evacuation procedures, decide on a meeting place outdoors. Go there as soon as you exit the building and stay there. This way, you can keep track of who is out and who may be trapped inside. If you think someone is trapped, tell the fire department – do not go back into the building yourself.
Prevention is your best insurance against fire. Take these simple fire safety precautions in your own unit to prevent fire from starting.
- Be careful with smoking materials. Keep large ashtrays for smokers and never smoke in bed! If you smoke on a porch, patio, or balcony make sure all smoking materials are property extinguished.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet up high out of the reach of children.
- Check regularly for electrical hazards, such as worn electrical cords, overloaded extension cords and outlets, and broken appliances.
- Don’t store flammable liquids in your home, car, or anywhere else inside your building.
- Don’t use balconies, porches, fire escapes or furnace rooms for storage. Fires starting in these areas can burn undetected.
- Do not leave candles burning in your apartment when you are not home.
- If you have a fireplace, do not lean anything against it or hang anything in front of it.
- Comply with all local ordinances when it comes to grilling on your patio. **The City of Madison does not allow this**
Make sure the fire detection system in your building works! If fire strikes, smoke detectors and fire alarms alert you to a fire right away, so you can get out of the building safely. Be sure your building has a working fire alarm system and learn to recognize the sound of the alarm. Know where the alarms are located in your building and how to operate them in an emergency.
Be sure the smoke alarms are working properly in your apartment. If you hear it beeping occasionally have your property manager check it out. It may need new batteries. If you notice that smoke detectors in your building hallways are beeping, be sure to have their batteries changed or electrical systems checked by the property manager.
Call 9-1-1! As a general rule, get out of the building, and then call the fire department from a safe place. When you call, be ready to provide your locations and any other information about the fire. The operator will ask you a lot of questions so try to remain calm and give as much information as you can. You never know if the alarm is real or false. Err on the side of caution and call 911.
What to Do If Fire Strikes
- Don’t rush out of your apartment into the hallway. First, feel the door. If it is hot, use another way out. If the door is cool, leave by the nearest exit.
- Never use elevators in a fire! Use the stairs. Close all doors behind you to slow fire spread.
- If your planned escape route becomes smoky, get down on your hands and knees and crawl. Smoke rises, so the cleanest air is near the floor.
- Never go back into the building. If you think someone is trapped inside, notify the fire department.
- If you can’t escape your apartment, stuff wet towel, sheets, or clothes around the door and vents to keep smoke out.
If you become trapped and can get to your cell phone, call the fire department and tell them where you are. If no smoke is coming into the room you are in, open a window slightly both at the top and the bottom. Stay low and wave a bright cloth, towel, or sheet out the window to signal your location.
Remember, by accepting responsibility to keep your apartment safe, you are not only protecting yourself, but your neighbors as well. A little bit of planning and awareness can make the difference between safety and disaster… for everyone! The McKenzie Apartment Company complies with all inspections to ensure fire detection and notification systems are working properly.