Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Two- or three-storey wood frame buildings have either enclosed stairwells or external fire escapes. Enclosed stairwells have fire doors, which must be kept closed at all times.

An apartment or high-rise fire is no cause for panic. If you plan ahead and practice fire drills, you can increase your chances of survival.

Check with your landlord or building manager to ensure Fire Safety Plans, including floor plans and evacuation procedures, are posted and visible. Take time to review them.

Causes of Apartment Fires

Common causes of apartment fires are:

  • cooking or kitchen fires
  • heating equipment, such as heaters, stoves or space heaters
  • smoking (which is still a major cause of fatal apartment fires)

Fire Prevention Tips

The best insurance against fires is prevention. Follow these tips to prevent fires:

  • Be careful with smoking materials. Check furniture and cushions for dropped matches and cigarettes. Never smoke in bed, especially if you have been drinking alcohol or taking medications.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.
  • Keep space heaters at least one metre (three feet) from anything that can ignite.
  • Replace worn or damaged electrical cords.
  • Do not store flammable liquids or compressed gases in your home, car or storage locker.
  • Do not use balconies for storage. This can block your escape routes and become a target for arsonists.

Learn to Recognize Fires

  • Your building should be equipped with smoke alarms and other fire detection devices.
  • Learn to recognize the sound of your building’s fire alarm. Leave the building immediately.
  • Leave the building every time you hear the fire alarm. Fire may be present in any part of the building. Do not ignore the alarm.
  • Install a smoke alarm outside of each sleeping area and on every level of your home. For maximum protection install a smoke alarm in every bedroom.

Know Your Escape Plan

  • Floor plans and evacuation procedures should be posted on every floor. Take time to learn them.
  • Develop and practice your fire safety plan. Know the two quickest and safest ways out of your building.
  • Encourage your building manager to train and implement a fire warden on each level of the building to ensure safe evacuation and ongoing safety.
  • Have a fire drill at least once per year, but practice your escape plans regularly. Coordinate practice drills with neighbours, floor wardens, and the building manager.
  • Assign someone to assist people with disabilities, who may need assistance to evacuate safely.
  • Ensure everyone knows what to do when the alarm sounds.
  • After exiting the building, go to a prearranged meeting place. Do not go back into the building for any reason.

How to Escape During a Fire

  • Check doors before opening them. If the door is hot, leave it closed and use an alternate escape route.
  • If you are unable to leave your apartment, protect yourself by placing towels, sheets or clothes around the door and vents to keep smoke out. Call 911 and notify them of your location in the building. If you can open a window and signal for help by waving a bright towel, sheet or flashlight.
  • Never use the elevator in a fire! Use the exit stairways and close all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire.
  • If your building has a public address system, listen carefully and follow the directions.
  • If your escape route becomes smoky, crawl low under the smoke. The air will be clearer and easier to breathe.
  • If your escape route becomes impassable due to smoke, heat or fire, return to your suite or use an alternate escape route. Never go to the roof, as you may become trapped with no means of escape or protection.
  • Get out and stay out! Go to your meeting place and stay there. Call 911 from a safe place.

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