The U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommends taking the following steps to keep safe if you live and/or work in a high-rise building.

Be Prepared

  • NEVER lock or obstruct a fire exit, doorways, halls, or stairways. Fire doors provide a safe way out during an emergency and slow the spread of fire and smoke.
  • Never prop a fire door open.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan.
  • Make sure everyone knows what to do if the fire alarm flashes.
  • Plan and practice your escape plan together.
  • Be sure your building manager posts evacuation plans in high-traffic areas such as lobbies and hallways.
  • Learn the flashes of your building’s fire alarm
  • Post emergency numbers near all telephones.
  • Make sure you know who is responsible for maintaining the fire safety systems.
  • Make sure nothing blocks the fire safety systems, and promptly report any sign of damage or malfunction to the building manager.

Do Not Panic

  • Do not assume someone else has called the fire department.
  • Immediately call your local emergency number. Early notification of the fire department is vital.
  • Stay calm, and give the dispatcher the information they ask for.

Do Not Open a Door That Is Warm to the Touch

  • Feel the door with the back of your hand. If it feels warm, do not attempt to open it.
  • Stay in your apartment or office.
  • Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape, and cover vents to keep out smoke.
  • If you can, call the fire department again to tell them exactly where you are, even if you can see the emergency services outside.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help with a flashlight or by waving a sheet.
  • If you can, open the window but DO NOT break it. You may need to close it again if smoke comes in.
  • Be patient. Rescuing all the occupants of a high-rise building can take time.

Once You Are Outside

  • STAY OUT! Do not go back inside for any reason.
  • Inform the fire department if you know of anyone else still in the building.
  • Go back inside only if the fire department tells you it is safe.

Maintain And Install Working Smoke Alarms

  • Always install smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Test them monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year
Fire safety questions to ask before you sign a lease

Consider these questions before signing a rental agreement: Are smoke alarms installed, and do they work? How old are the smoke alarms? How often are the smoke alarms checked and batteries changed? Are there at least two ways to exit your living space and building?...

Commuter Programs

Resource Type: Safety & Preparedness

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