No one wants to imagine that a fire will break out in their home or apartment building, yet this type of event happens every day. If you don’t have a solid plan for residential fire evacuation, you could be putting your and your family’s life in jeopardy. Creating a plan and practicing it is the best way to be prepared for unpleasant surprises.
Here’s how to evacuate safely, whether you live in a single-family home or an apartment building:
- Set off the fire alarm: If your building has a fire alarm, either for the floor or the entire building, pull it. This will alert other residents that they need to get out immediately. If you hear the alarm, take it seriously—never assume it’s a mere fire drill.
- Call 911 as you’re leaving: Grab your phone if possible and call 911 as you’re leaving. Let them know your location, whether you have pets and what you suspect the problem may be. For example, if you know the source and location of the fire, this is important information.
- Stay low to the ground: Smoke rises, and smoke inhalation is a leading cause of fire-related injury and death. When leaving your building, stay as low to the ground as possible. You may want to wrap a wet t-shirt or other cloth around your nose and mouth to filter out smoke.
- Wrap doorknobs in t-shirts to prevent burns: Many people instinctively grab doorknobs without realizing they could be hot. To avoid burning your hands, wrap your hands or the knob in a t-shirt to prevent burns.
- Assist children or the elderly: If you have young children or elderly people living with you, help them escape. Stay as low to the ground as possible while trying to get them to safety.
- Leave the building: Next, leave the building—either through emergency exits, regular exits or down a fire escape ladder. Do not use elevators during a fire. There’s no guarantee the electrical system will remain in operation, and you don’t want to get trapped.
- Move to a designated meeting spot: Once you’re safely outside the building, move to a pre-determined meeting spot to ensure all your family members are safe. For example, if there’s a convenience store on the corner, plan to stand in front of their building so your loved ones can find you. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s nearby and easily accessible.
- Stay away from the building until it’s deemed safe: Finally, make sure that you stay out of the building until the fire department declares it safe to go back inside. Fire can damage the structure of the building. It may collapse if you try to go in and collect belongings, pets or other items.
Having a smart residential fire evacuation plan will help you be ready in the event disaster strikes. If you’re a property owner and you need help with escape planning, call the experts at Great Escape Fire Escape Service. We can help ensure all of your tenants know what to do if a fire breaks out.