for Apartment Dwellers
Maintain your own smoke alarms and don’t use rechargeable batteries.
Remember, knowing how to get out quickly and safely could mean the difference
between life and death. People who die in fires generally succumb to poisonous
smoke and intense heat, not flames.
If a fire happens in your unit:
- Remain calm and exit your unit.
- Take your key and close the door behind you.
- Activate the closest fire alarm, which should be located by the exit
- Leave the building via the exit stairwell. Never use the elevators
during a fire.
If the building fire alarm sounds:
- Before opening your unit door, use the back of your hand and touch
the top of the door and around the door handle. If it feels hot or warm,
do not open the door. An indication of heat means there could be a fire
behind the door.
- If the door is cool to the touch, brace your foot and shoulder against
the door and open it slightly.
- If you see smoke, do not enter the hallway; stay in your unit. Follow
the procedures below for when your path is blocked by smoke.
- If the hallway is clear of smoke, exit your unit and close the door
- Never use the elevators during a fire. Go to the nearest exit stairwell.
Using the same procedure as mentioned above, check the door for heat
before you open it slightly.
- If you see smoke, do not go this way. Use another exit. Close the
door tightly and go to the second exit stairwell. Most buildings have
an exit stairwell at both ends of the hall. Before you open the door,
again check for heat and check the stairwell for smoke.
- If the stairwell is clear of smoke, enter it, and close the door
tightly behind you.
- Go down the stairs and exit the building.
When your exit is blocked by smoke of fire, or you are physically unable
to exit the building, you should:
- Remain calm.
- Keep your unit door closed, but unlock it.
- Seal the door jam completely with duct tape and place a wet towel
across the bottom. This will prevent smoke from seeping into your unit.
- Call 911 and tell them your location. Advise them that there is an
emergency situation in your building and you are unable to evacuate.
The 911 operator will give you further instructions.
If smoke has already entered your unit, you should:
- Remain calm and keep low, below the smoke.
- Call 911 and tell them your location and that you are trapped by
- If you have a balcony, stay low and go outside onto it. Close the
balcony door behind you. You can remain on your balcony only if there
is no fire below your unit.
- If you don't have a balcony or can't get to it, go to a window and
open it fully.
- Hang a towel or blanket out the window so the fire department will
know you’re trapped.
- Stay low and wait for rescue.
Propane barbecues on apartment balconies
Many leases will not allow propane barbecues to be used or stored on
apartment balconies or anywhere in the building. This is due not only
to the potential safety hazards but the possible soot and smoke annoyance
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