Escaping an apartment fire

By Whitney Thomas, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Every year thousands of Americans experience a home fire. In 2015 alone approximately 365,500 home fires were recorded resulting in a devastating 2,650 casualties, 11,075 injuries and $7 million in property damage.  But what do you do if you live in an apartment? How do you escape a fire on the third floor?

Apartment fires are one of most frequent incidents to occur yet many Americans still do not have enough safeguards in place for prevention or emergency steps if provisions fail.

There are steps that can be taken to help you and your family escape in the event of an apartment fire. It is imperative to remember not to panic.  Responding in panic mode can cause the inability to think and respond clearly.   Remaining calm and moving swiftly is the best way to handling a fire.

Safety tips for apartment fires

  • fi0bmlag7yfzzjw-mediumCall 911
  • Ensure that everyone in the home follows the escape plan.
  • Stay low to the ground in order to avoid inhaling smoke and toxins.
  • If you live in a second or third story apartment, you may not able to get out through the front door and down the stairs if a fire occurs. You should consider going to your local home improvement store for an escape ladder.
  • Stay close to an open window so that firefighters will be able get access quickly.
  • Do not use elevators at any point when escaping an apartment fire.
  • If a fire occurs do not attempt to collect personal items. Get yourself and your family out of the residence immediately.

Prevention tips for an apartment fire.

  • Make sure there are smoke detectors throughout the home and check them monthly.
  • Do not sit non-heat resistant items such as towels, oven mitts, flammable objects or things that will melt on stove tops.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Do not leave candles, incense, fireplaces or other fiery objects unattended.
  • Set timers for cooking devices to prevent forgetting and causing damage.
  • Do not plug multiple cords into one outlet. Instead, purchase a surge protector and use with caution.
  • Have an escape plan.
  • Know the exits in your home and prepare everyone in the residence on the proper way to escape and where to meet, if needed.
  • Speak with the landlord to find out if they have a plan already in place.
  • Know the emergency exits in your building.
  • Ensure the proper steps have been taken to help those in your family or apartment building with disabilities.



What to do if your home has been damaged or destroyed by a fire: 

Once everyone is safe, call your local American Red Cross. Our Disaster Action Teams are on standby to help you and your family after a fire. Caseworkers will work with each family or individual impacted to ensure that your needs are met and you have a place to sleep and food to eat while working to recover.

If you would like free smoke alarms installed in your home, need fire safety education or have experienced a home fire and are in need of assistance, please your local American Red Cross office or visit our home fire prevention page.

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