Understanding the risks to apartment fire safety is essential when living in a multi-unit residential building. Within a matter of minutes, your small fire can spread and become a larger one. You’ll need to basic understanding and a game plan on what to do should a fire hazard take place.
Before you move into an apartment, have the landlord perform a fire inspection to ensure that it is up-to-code. There should be an adequate number of working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers available. If this is not the case, have the leasing agent correct this before signing your lease.
How to Prevent an Apartment Fire
Living in an apartment building makes for greater fire safety concern more than those living in standard homes. Connected neighbors pose a significant risk of fire as they may not be as cautious as yourself. Here are a few fire safety tips to help you to best steer clear of an apartment fire.
- Never leave cooking food unattended;
- Keep all potholders and towels away from the range;
- Avoid wearing long sleeves or loose fitting clothing while cooking;
- Turn off all burners and appliances once the cooking is done;
- Keep your kitchen clean, especially areas where grease and oil can build.
Simply put, don’t smoke. The American Red Cross claims, “smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States.” If this doesn’t get you to quit, here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Never smoke in bed; Always extinguish the embers before tossing the cigarette/cigar/etc. away;
- Keep your lighting materials out of children’s reach.
Use of Candles
- Never leave an open flame unattended; Do not place candles near drapes, curtains, and other flammable materials or combustibles;
- Extinguish candles prior to leaving the room or sleeping.
Electronics and Appliances
- Replace worn cords and cables that may be frayed or cracked;
- Use power strips if additional outlets are needed. Do not daisy chain them;
- Use appliances only as directed; Do not overload circuits or the extension cords;
- Never run cords underneath rugs.
- Keep flammables away from heating sources. It’s best to maintain a three feet clearance area around them;
- Do not store propane or gas tanks inside your apartment;
- Always turn off your space heaters before falling asleep for the night to avoid a fire hazard.
Have an Evacuation Plan
How to get out of your building during a fire is an essential game plan for anyone living in an apartment building. Make sure to know the routes for exiting the building in as safe a way as possible.
- Identify all available routes to the outside of your building;
- If you have other living members in the apartment, then you should establish a meeting place once you’re outside;
- You should have a minimum of two escape routes planned just in case the first is blocked off;
- Know where the stairs are to get off the floor you’re on;
- Perform your own fire drills to ensure all involved know what to do if a fire was to occur.
When Disaster Strikes
No matter the preparation, sometimes a disaster is unavoidable. In the case of an apartment fire you’ll want to vacate the premises using these tips:
- Before opening a door check them for heat. If cool, you can open it slowly while staying low to the ground and avoiding possible smoke inhalation;
- If the door is warm, then you should seal off the door and the vents with damp sheets or towels. Head to a window and if there is no smoke, then you should open it and signal for help. If able to call 9-1-1, then provide your location and let them know you are trapped in the building;
- Remember to take your apartment key with you just in case you cannot exit the building safely;
- Close the doors behind you to stop the fire from spreading too fast;
- Never use the elevator during a fire. Always use the stairs;
- Once you manage to exit the building, do not go back inside.