High rise living comes with risks – and it has clear advantages, too. It’s cheaper to buy a flat or an apartment, even on high value land, and it’s a more efficient and environmentally sound way for cities to grow.
There’s no doubt that the world will fill with more and more tower blocks – but as we still reel in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, our collective awareness of fire safety has never been higher. The most important outcome is getting out alive, so we’ve prepared a safety list for apartment dwellers to help minimise risk.
1 – Make an Escape Plan, Right Now
Fire can happen to anyone, at any time. If you haven’t made an escape plan, do it right after reading this. Don’t overcomplicate it, but have the essentials in place. Make sure that:
- There’s always a key by the door in case it’s locked
- Everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of a fire
- You know what to do if you’re trapped
Your escape plan from an apartment building should be well rehearsed – it ensures that when an emergency does arise, you know exactly what to do and won’t resort to panic. We’ve previously covered the ways panic and confusion can be deadly in emergency situations.
2 – Time is of the Essence
Living at the top floor means your journey to the ground is the longest, so if fire breaks out in your flat, don’t hang around. Don’t try to investigate the fire and don’t collect your belongings. Not even your coat. Nothing’s more important than getting out safely.
If the whole building’s fire warning is triggered, it’s time to move. Stop what you’re doing, get everyone in the flat together and leave quickly but calmly.
If the building has a ‘stay put policy’ then abide by this. A stay put policy or strategy is for residents not in an area directly impacted by the fire who should stay inside their flat with doors and windows shut. When a fire occurs within your flat, or in common parts of the building, you are advised to leave the premises and call the fire and rescue services.
3 – Don’t Use the Lifts
Imagine everyone in your building trying to use the lift at the same time to get out. If there’s a fire, you’ll be waiting for long enough to have put yourself and others in serious danger.
The only people who should even be entertaining the thought of using lifts are disabled people and those with limited mobility – and even then, there are major risks. Elevator shafts act as chimneys for smoke on lower floors and fire can damage electrics – leaving the lift occupants trapped.
4 – Close Doors as You Go
Closing doors (whether they’re fire doors or not) provides an added level of compartmentation – a key component of fire safe design – which inhibits the movement and spread of fire. Compartmentation reduces the oxygen available to flames and could help save the lives of others in the building by giving them more time to get out.
5 – What if You’re Trapped?
If your flat has a balcony, get out onto it and close the doors behind you. Shout for help and await rescue. Never, ever jump off to escape the flames – you’re better off staying put on the balcony where the flames can’t reach you until you can be rescued.
If your flat doesn’t have a balcony and you find yourself trapped inside, get into a room as far away from the source of the fire as possible. Seal the edges of the door with damp towels (or anything you can find) to stop ingress of smoke, and open the window as wide as you can. Call for help – shout out of the window or use a mobile phone to call the emergency services.
It’s up to you to keep your home safe from fire. Try to keep it clean and clear, and make sure you and your family know exactly what to do if you experience a fire. Keep it simple and keep it safe!
Fire Safety is Our Priority
Our expertise has led Coopers Fire to become a leader in fire safety. For more information on our educational training courses or our non-intrusive, life-saving fire and smoke protection, call us on 02392 454 405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.