General High-Rise Fire Safety Tips

Before there is a fire:

High-Rise safety, photo of two buildings

  • Obtain a copy of your building's fire evacuation plan.
  • Learn the parts of the evacuation plan that affect you.
  • Plan and Practice TWO ways out of the building. Building management, staff, and residents should conduct at least one fire drill a year.
  • Be sure that your smoke alarms have battery back-ups if they are electric powered (you will still be protected if the power is out).
  • Learn how to test your smoke alarms, check them once a month and change your smoke alarms batteries at least twice each year.

If there is a fire:

  • Pull the fire alarm on your way out. Close the door(s) to the room containing the fire. Closing the door(s) will help to control the spread of smoke and fire.
  • If your escape route has smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Stay close to the floor where the air is less toxic and the visibility is better.
  • Count the number of doors between your door and the nearest stairway or exit (if there is a fire, you may have to find the stairwell while crawling down the hall in the dark).
  • NEVER use an elevator in a fire (the elevator might lose power, or might unexpectedly open at the fire floor).
  • Go directly outside (instead of to the parking garage).
  • Once you are outside, go to your meeting place (not your car).
  • Remember to call 9-1-1 from a safe location.
  • Do not go back inside until the fire department has told you it is okay to do so (if you think someone is still trapped inside, stay outside so you don't become an additional victim, and so that you can tell the firefighters exactly where to search).

If there is no safe way out or you are unable to physically leave the building:

Fire Escape on front of apartment  building

  • Put as many doors/rooms as you can between you and the fire. Seal all vents and cracks around doors with towels or clothing.
  • Open a window slightly for fresh air, but not a lot because that will only feed the flames.
  • Call the 9-1-1 dispatcher to explain exactly where you are.
  • Let firefighters know you're trapped by waving a bright (white or yellow) cloth in the window or by using a flashlight at night.