High-Rise Fire Safety
Anyone can survive a high-rise fire when they know what to do. Before a fire occurs, have an escape plan and practice the escape. If a fire occurs, the most important thing to do is sound the alarm and get out.
Prevent fires from occurring by practicing simple fire safety actions.
The NFPA has provided a safety sheet for high-rise apartments and condos (PDF).
Plan for a Fire Before It Occurs:
- Know the location of exits.
- Recognize the sound of the fire alarm.
- Know how to activate the alarm.
- Know how to contact the fire department.
- Participate in fire drills and know the evacuation plans for the building.
- Do not prop open exit doors or store anything in halls or stairwells.
If a Fire is Discovered, Sound the Alarm and Exit:
- Sound the fire alarm, no matter how small the fire seems to be.
- Close all doors upon exiting, especially the door to a burning room.
- Proceed directly to the exit. Do not use the elevators.
- Go quickly and calmly to the ground floor and exit immediately.
- In all instances, follow the directions of fire and security personnel.
Stay Calm if the Exit Route is Blocked by Smoke:
- Crawl low in smoke. The air is easier to breathe near the floor.
- If trapped in a room, close all doors between occupants and the smoke. Seal cracks around doors and vents.
- If possible, open windows slightly at the top and bottom to let fresh air enter.
- Signal at the window to rescuers. If there is a phone in the room, give the fire department your exact location, even if they're on the scene.
Prevent Fires from Starting:
- Smoke only where permitted.
- Use large ashtrays. Dispose of ashes only when they are cold.
- Check after smokers for "live" cigarettes smoldering in wastebaskets and under the cushions of upholstered sofas and chairs.
- Investigate electrical equipment that is not working properly or smells strange. Unusual odors from appliances or cords can be a first sign of fire.
- If you must use an extension cord, plug only one appliance into it. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
- Keep heat-producing devices away from things that burn.
- Make sure all appliances are turned off when people are about to leave the building. In an office building assign someone to do this.
- Keep all areas clear of trash. This can be fuel for fire.
Information source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).