Fires that occur in high-rise apartment buildings and condominiums are especially dangerous and cause more damage than all other structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The American Red Cross urges those living in these multi-unit buildings to think ahead and know the evacuation plans and fire safety features for their building.
“The American Red Cross responds to a house or apartment fire every 9 minutes across the country,” said Janienne Bella, Central and Western Oklahoma Regional CEO. “The Red Crossis committed to educating area residents about how they can mitigate the risk from a house fire and help people affected by a house fire with food, shelter, and emotional support.”
Across the region in the last year, the American Red Cross responded to 35 multi-family fires which take place in apartment buildings and condominiums.
There are several key steps multi-unit building residents can take to be prepared:
- Learn the fire safety features of the building, including fire alarms, sprinklers and evacuation plans
- Make sure all exits are clearly marked and not blocked
- Know the locations of all available exit stairwells on the floor, one or more of the exists might be blocked by fire
- Identify a meeting place outside and away from the building
If you cannot evacuate and smoke is present, stuff a wet towel in openings around doors or vents where smoke might enter. If smoke or fire enters your unit, call 911 to report your location. Stay low to the floor to breathe the best air. Put a wet cloth over your mouth and nose. Open the window slightly and wave a bright cloth to identify your location.
The Red Cross recommends that all renters conduct an on-site inspection of the property before purchasing a home or signing a lease to make sure there are no visible fire hazards and that fire safety equipment is present and in working order. Renters should ask to see a copy of the building’s evacuation plan and find out who is responsible for maintaining the fire safety systems.
For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit www.redcross.org/homefires
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies around 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To learn more go online to www.okc.redcross.org .