Apartment and Condominium Fire Safety Tips
Responsibility for the fire safety of your building lies with each and every resident. That’s why it is so important that you plan together to keep your building as fire safe as possible and learn the right thing to do should fire break out. The first place to start is to learn the facts.
- Smoking is the #1 cause of all fatal apartment fires. And, someone smoking in bed causes nearly a third of them.
- Most residential fire deaths occur at night when condos and apartments are most heavily populated.
Be Prepared! Plan Ahead for Everyone’s Safety!
Meet with your landlord or building manager to devise fire safety plans for your building. As part of your group planning, explore your building. Know every possible exit, including exits from laundry, storage, and recreation rooms. If hallways become smoky in a fire, your memory can help you find a way out. It is important that you keep exit and stairwell doors closed at all times, but not locked. And, keep exits clear of debris and storage.
Focus on these four key elements in your fire safety plan: Prevention, Detection, Escape Planning and Practice, and Fire Department Notification.
An ounce of prevention can save your life. 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!
- 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.
- The New Jersey Fire Code NOW prohibits the use of ANY flame-producing device on a combustible
Fire Department Notification
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. REMEMBER: If the alarm sounds, call 9-1-1 immediately!!! Do not assume that someone else in your building has called.
Make sure the fire detection system 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.
Smoke detectors should be installed on every floor of your own unit. This way, if a fire starts while you’re asleep, detectors will wake you before it’s too late.
If you notice that smoke detectors in your own unit or in public hallways are beeping, be sure to have their batteries changed or electrical systems checked. Notify management to replace dead batteries immediately.
Escape Planning and Practice
In a fire, there is no time to stop and think. You need to know in advance the two quickest safe 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. Ask your building manager to post the floor plans in high-traffic areas, such as near exit doors, and foyers. Make a point to review the floor plans now and then – because in a fire, smoky conditions and urgency can make this 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.
PRACTICE! Rehearse your escape plans as a group. Appoint a floor captain and hold a fire drill to make sure, that everyone knows the rights thing to do when the alarm sounds.
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.
- 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. Go directly to your planned meeting place and stay there. 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.
- 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 or condo fire 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!
Remember in case of an emergency CALL: 9-1-1