The Dos and Don’ts of Fire Evacuations

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Building fires are particularly dangerous because they can get out of hand very quickly. It can take minutes for smoke to start filling up hallways and for flames to spread from level to level, long before emergency responders come to the rescue.

It’s imperative to prepare for quick and effective fire evacuations — this is something that the building’s management and residents can work towards.

Start these preparations by learning the biggest dos and don’ts of fire evacuations. You’ll find out crucial information like why management should shovel snow from exits, why residents should avoid elevators in emergencies and why the Evacuscape fire evacuation chair is an essential tool for fire evacuations.

The Dos and Don’ts for Residents

All residents should evacuate via stairwell in emergencies

Do: Take the Stairs

You should never take an elevator to evacuate a building during a fire. The elevator could lose power before it transports you to the desired floor, leaving you trapped inside, or it could transport you to a floor that is engulfed in fire or smoke.

This is an issue for residents that can’t evacuate through stairwells in a safe and timely manner. Senior citizens, pregnant women, people with disabilities and people with serious injuries are just some examples of residents that can’t take this escape route on their own.

The best solution for this specific problem is the Evacuscape evacuation chair. This chair can help residents who can’t take the staircase on their own evacuate the building safely.

How does the chair work? The person who is unable to take the stairs quickly sits in the evacuation chair and secures themselves with the straps (a helper can also secure the straps for them). Then, the helper can guide the resident in the chair down the staircase and out of the building.

Don’t: Ignore the Alarm

Smoke alarms can ring out at inconvenient times. It could be the middle of the night when you’re in bed or midday when you’re hard at work. At these inconvenient times, you might be tempted to ignore the alarm and keep doing what you were planning on doing.

Unless given official notice that this is a false alarm, you should assume that it’s the real deal and try to evacuate the premises quickly and calmly. Remember: it’s better to be safe than sorry. Ignoring this warning could put your health and safety at risk.

Smoke inhalation is a risk during fire evacuations

Do: Stay Low

You may encounter smoke during your evacuation. If you can avoid the smoke by taking an alternative exit, you should do so. If you can’t take an alternative route, you should try to stay as low to the ground as possible. Heat from the fire will force the smoke to rise, so the lower you are, the safer the air will be to breathe.

Don’t: Go Back Inside

You may want to turn around part-way through your evacuation to grab items that have strong personal or financial value. This is not a good idea. Even if you’re nowhere close to the flames, you could easily come into contact with other dangers in the vicinity. You could inhale too much smoke. The fire could damage the structural integrity of the building, causing pillars to fall, ceilings to collapse or floors to become unstable. You could encounter items that let off hazardous fumes or combust when exposed to flames or extreme heat.

Time is of the essence. You should prioritize your safety, ignore your valuables and do your best to exit the building as soon as possible.

The Dos and Don’ts for Building Management

Firefighters respond to a building fire

Do: Practice

As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” If you want to maximize your chances of doing an effective fire evacuation, you should practice fire drills. Practicing fire drills will prevent residents from being panicked and paralyzed in the midst of an emergency. They’ll know instinctively what steps they have to follow to get to safety.

Before you start running fire drills, determine the following:

  • Where are the primary escape routes and emergency exits?
  • Where are the secondary escape routes in case the primary routes are blocked?
  • Where is a safe location for residents to gather after evacuation?
  • Who will be the safety warden/fire marshal?

Fire drills aren’t the only types of evacuation plans you should practice. You should practice drills for different stages of evacuation and different disasters that could affect the building, like power outages, hurricanes and floods.

Do: Keep Exits Clear

In order to have a safe evacuation, all emergency exits should be kept clear of any obstacles. Residents should be able to easily find these exit doors, open them and move through them without trouble. Vehicles shouldn’t be parked in front of them, and furniture should not be propped against them.

In the winter months, you should put a concerted effort into removing ice and snow around the exits. Sprinkle de-icers like salt or sand so that residents don’t accidentally slip and fall while evacuating the building. Shovel the snow so that it doesn’t block the door from opening. These simple steps will keep the building’s evacuation process safe and smooth.

Do: Have the Right Equipment

One of the simplest tips for planning for an emergency is to get specialty equipment. These are the pieces of specialty equipment that you will need for a fire evacuation:

  • Functional smoke alarms. These should be installed in units and hallways on every single level of the building. They should be tested every month to ensure that they’re ready to sound off and warn residents of the potential threat.
  • Fire extinguishers. The Fire Code states that fire extinguishers must be in the hallways of multi-unit residential and commercial buildings.
  • Sprinkler systems. Sprinkler systems can slow down a spreading fire and reduce the damage it takes on the building.
  • Evacuation chairs. Buildings should have Evacuscape evacuation chairs near stairwells that lead to emergency exits. They should be easily accessible so that someone can grab the chair and guide a resident to safety in an emergency. Click here for details about evacuation chair price and model design.

Preparation for a fire evacuation is incredibly important. You want everyone to be ready to evacuate when the disaster strikes.

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