Are fires in high-rise buildings different than others? Yes!

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People living in a high-rise building need to think ahead and be prepared in the event of a fire. It is important to know the safety features in your building and work together with your neighbors to help keep the building as fire-safe as possible. The key to fire safety in a building is to be proactive and plan ahead. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) offers some tips that will help.

If the alarm goes off in your building and you don’t see or smell smoke.

Still treat it as a true emergency and follow your building evacuation plan. Learn your building evacuation plan. Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm sounds. Plan and practice your escape plan together. Be sure your building manager posts evacuation plans in high traffic areas, such as lobbies. Learn the sound of your building’s fire alarm and post emergency numbers near all telephones. Know who is responsible for maintaining the fire safety systems. Make sure nothing blocks these devices and promptly report any sign of damage or malfunction to the building management.

If the door is not warm to the touch

If you do attempt to open the door, open it slowly and check for the presence of smoke or fire in the hallway. If there is no smoke in the hallway or stairwells follow your building’s evacuation plan. If you encounter smoke or flames on your way out, immediately return to your apartment or office. Do not try to go through the smoke or fire, more deaths occur from smoke inhalation than from being burned.

If the door is warm to the touch

Before you try to leave your apartment or office, feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door feels warm to the touch, stay in and do not attempt to open it. Stuff the cracks around the door with wet towels, tape and cover vents to keep smoke out. If there is a phone where you are trapped, call the fire department again to tell them exactly where you are. Do this even if you can see fire trucks on the street below. Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a sheet. Be patient. Rescuing all the occupants of a high-rise building can take several hours.

After a high-rise fire emergency

Once you are out of the building, stay out! Do not go back inside for any reason.

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