What to Do in Case of Fire in a Building

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Fires are terrifying and can become out of control in seconds, causing countless serious injuries and deaths to apartment building tenants trying to escape. At Ronemus & Vilensky, New York fire accident attorneys who have represented many burn injury victims and their families, we understand firsthand how important it is to know the building’s evacuation plan and to ensure that equipment and devices are functional.

Following is a roadmap on what to do in case of a fire in a building – whether your apartment building has a few floors or is a high-rise building.

Fire Safety: Planning Ahead

Make sure the property owner or landlord is properly maintaining the building, including ensuring that all equipment is up to date and functional. This includes maintaining smoke alarms, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and self-closing doors. Fire exits should be adequately labeled. If there’s non-working smoke alarm or the fire extinguisher glass case is broken, let the landlord or super know immediately.

Be aware of the location of the nearest fire alarm and the nearest fire exit. In case of fire, you need to activate the fire alarm pull stations to alert everyone in the building. Post emergency numbers so you can easily find them. Get trained on using a fire extinguisher.

In the Event of a Fire: Notify the Fire Department Immediately

Stay calm and follow the evacuation plan. Pull the fire alarm to notify the fire department in the event of a fire emergency. If you can, and you are in a safe area, call 911 using your cell phone to provide details.

If the fire is small and manageable and you are trained on using a fire extinguisher, do so. A small fire can be extinguished with a fire extinguisher. However, if the building fire is out of control, again, follow the evacuation plan. Fire safety for you and your family is paramount.

Get outside of the burning building immediately. If you live in a high-rise apartment, there may be a public address system, so listen carefully and follow the broadcasted directions. If your building has elevators, use the stairs. You never want to take an elevator, so get to a fire stairway and, if that’s not possible, go to a room with an outside window.

Be sure to close doors behind you but remember not to open doors warm to the touch. Use the back of your hand to test the door and to avoid burning your palm. Stay low to the ground to avoid smoke.

What If You Are Trapped in a Fire?

If the fire is in your unit and you can’t get out, call emergency personnel on your cell phone if possible. If your clothing catches fire, cover your face and mouth with your hands to prevent smoke inhalation and roll on the ground to put the fire out. Stay on the phone until help gets there. Get fresh air by opening the window a few inches. Get a hold of a brightly colored cloth to wave out the window to indicate your location.

If you can seek refuge where the fire hasn’t spread, seal the room with wet cloths around the door cracks, so smoke doesn’t come through. Keep a damp cloth over your nose and mouth, and breathe slowly through your nose.

If You Are Injured in a Fire, Call the Experienced Attorneys at Ronemus & Vilensky

If you have suffered injuries from a fire in your building — burns or smoke inhalation — seek medical help immediately. Ronemus & Vilensky, LLP, fire and burn injury attorneys, have worked with hundreds of victims of fires in New York City. Our experience is unmatched, having recovered millions of dollars in financial compensation for many severe burn injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation or call 212-779-7070.