You must have a plan (Wise saying – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail)
Simple precautions for your security!
Have a plan, prepare in the event of an emergency, and practice the plan.
- Make sure all tenants or occupants of the premises are aware of the escape plan. It is not a plan if nobody knows about it.
- Make sure a functional fire alarm with fresh batteries (yearly) is installed.
- If there are hearing or sight impaired tenants, install strobe lights or vibration along with the alarm.
- Believe each alarm is serious.
- Never deactivate nuisance alarms, relocating the alarm without rendering it obsolete is a better solution.
- Verify that all windows are easily opened by the weakest tenants (i.e. children, elderly). If windows have security bars, ensure they have quick-release devices on the inside.
- Make sure an escape ladder is easily accessible for residential two story buildings.
- In basements, place solid objects (i.e. furniture or other) beneath the windows to aid in evading.
- Always keep an eye open and make sure that doors and windows are not obstructed by furniture or other large objects.
- Make sure the appropriate fire extinguisher is available for use if needed (i.e. kitchen, dorm rooms, shops, etc…). Only use a fire extinguisher if it is safe.
- Learn and teach to all concerned to stop, drop to the ground and roll themselves if their clothing catches on fire.
- Very important to point out who will need assistance, a few minutes of planning will save time (precious seconds) in a real emergency. Designate who will assist them and have a back-up plan if that person is unavailable at the time of an emergency.
- If an elevator exists in your building do not use it, use the stairs.
- Often commercial or public buildings have evacuation plans posted on the walls for the occupants to use. Always take time to verify these evacuation plans and identify at least two (2) exits you can use in case of a fire.
- If no evacuation plan is available draw a plan of the premises, of your home or apartment identifying all possible exits. Click on the image top right corner of this article and print the pdf file provided.
When an emergency happens.
- When an alarm signals a fire, get to the nearest exit, get out and stay out. Never re-enter a burning building. Call 911 once you are outside the building.
- Don't stop to gather your belongings or get dressed, get low, get close to the floor to get under the smoke. Smoke rises, leaving cleaner more breathable air close to the floor.
- If you reach a closed door on the way out – Test it, before you open it.
- Make sure you are down low close to the floor therefore when you crack the door open you will avoid inhalation or burn injuries from heated gases, ideally use your knees to stop it from slamming open because of pressure from the other side.
- Be prepared to react if you see smoke or feel the heat rushing in, shut the door immediately and look for another exit.
- If it is safe proceed to the exit while closing the doors behind you to hold back smoke and flames.
- If you are stuck and cannot proceed to any exit, protect yourself until help comes to you. Ideally go to a room with a telephone and window, close the door and seal the gaps around the door with bed linen, rags or towels, cover the air vents in the room and call 911 to let them know where you are. Move to the window and wave colored cloth, objects or lights to guide any help towards you. If possible open the window, do not break the glass unless you have to. Protect yourself from any broken glass.
- Do not hide (i.e. closets or under beds) and teach this explicitly to children and the disabled.
- Practice is very important, children, teens, elderly, shift workers, sleep deprived and hearing or sight impaired may all react differently to a fire alarm, thus making practice vital to your plans success.
- Practice ideally at least twice a year; you will all be better prepared in the event an emergency does take place and lives can be saved.