Fire departments are called upon to respond to flames and smoke coming from different apartment dwellings every year. These are often units that didn’t take the necessary precautions in fire safety.
Apartment fires can occur from various things. Smoking is a major cause of fatal apartment fires, for example. Knowing this, if you smoke, always use an ashtray and don’t fall asleep with a cigarette in hand. Cooking and kitchen fires are also common. Be sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby to deal with these. Heaters, stoves, and space heaters can also be sources of fire in an apartment. Be careful with these appliances and others, and have a readily-accessible fire extinguisher somewhere close.
Below is a fire safety plan for apartment buildings, which will protect your home and the possessions inside.
Know Your Fire Exit
Every apartment building is different. Some have stairwells that can be used during a fire or emergency. Others have fire exits towards the back of the building. When you move in, be sure to plan a pathway out in case of fire.
Due to how apartments are built, fires can often be contained within a specific unit or floor. Just because it may not directly impact where you’re living, though, you still have to exit the building, and for that, you need an exit plan.
Close the Door on Fire
Fire needs oxygen and space. The less space you give it, the slower it spreads. If you open the door and see flames, close the door even if it’s your decided-upon exit route. Lock in the fire when you can. Do not run through fire or move towards it.
Use another escape route or, if necessary, stay inside your apartment. If you’re surrounded by flames and can’t leave, call the Fire Department via 911 to advise them of your whereabouts immediately.
Have a Working Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors will know there’s a fire often before you might. It’s on 24/7 and ready to snap on if there’s evidence of smoke or fire, even when you’re sleeping. Ensure the batteries are changed regularly and located in spaces where fires are likely, i.e. kitchen. You will also want a smoke detector near your bedroom if anything happens when you sleep. Test them once a month and replace them every ten years
Cover Up Vents with Towels or Blankets
If you are stuck inside your apartment and can’t leave, start by placing towels or blankets on vents, around the bottom of doorways, and any openings from your room to where the fire is. Keep the smoke out.
If there’s a window, open it and signal for help by waving a bright towel, a sheet, or a flashlight. Use whatever you have that makes sense. When you’re trapped inside a room, you’ve got to act quickly and protect yourself.
Do Not Overload Outlets
You have no control over how well your apartment is wired behind the wall. Be careful not to overload the electrical outlet or use worn or damaged electrical cords. Any power bar or additional outlets you use should be high-quality. If you notice sparks from the outlet or you feel unsafe, unplug everything and contact your landlord to have an electrician come by and conduct an inspection.
Keep Space Heaters Separate
You may use a space heater to save on heating costs. A space heater near combustibles is a bad idea. Any heater should be a minimum of three feet away from combustibles and any materials that could catch fire from heat. Any flammable liquids or compressed gasses should not be kept in the unit, either. If these are close to a heat source, there could be trouble.
Have a Meeting Place
When there’s a fire, you have to get outside at a reasonable pace. If you have others in the apartment with you, ensure an agreed-upon meeting place. This way, your account is for everyone. For example, if there’s a fire at night, you want to ensure everyone is safe, and a meeting place somewhere near the building will provide that. Do not re-enter a fire until the firefighters give the all-clear.
Remove Fire Hazards from Apartment
Do not keep flammable materials out. Anything flammable that you can’t get rid of, it’s not a bad idea to keep it under lock and key. If you have children, you will want matches and lighters somewhere they cannot reach.
Anything that could cause a fire in your apartment, including hazards, you want to mitigate. Do not leave any food cooking unattended or a space heater unattended. Have a working fire extinguisher in an easy-to-reach location.