Having a disaster plan ready in case of emergency can save your life. Although you may wish to never have to deal with an apartment fire, for example, you should know what to do if your apartment or complex starts on fire.
Have a Fireproof Safe and/or Backups
Hopefully you’ll never have to put your disaster plan into action, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for what you hope will never come. So you don’t have to worry about material things during a fire, keep a fireproof safe in your apartment—or, better yet, a safe at a bank. In these safes, have backups of all of your irreplaceable documents and photos, either on a flash drive or paper copies. You should also store keepsakes of sentimental value.
If you have to deal with a fire, you shouldn’t worry about material things when getting to safety is more important.
Being Fire Safe
Make sure you have smoke alarms in all of the rooms of your apartment and have at least two fire extinguishers, one of which should be in the kitchen. Don’t forget to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year and replace the fire extinguisher every so often. Remember to use common sense and never leave flames unattended or get water near electrical devices.
What to Do If a Fire Starts in Your Apartment
If you’re home when a fire starts in your apartment, grab a fire extinguisher as soon as you see the flames and attempt to put out the fire. If the fire is too rampant or you experience difficulty with the fire extinguisher, forget trying to put it out and get yourself and everyone with you to safety. Call the fire department and bang on neighbors’ doors to let them know of the danger. (If you were unable to grab your phone, ask neighbors to call.)
Do not reenter the apartment. Tell the firefighters about any other people or animals who are trapped inside.
Evacuation Plan during a Fire
Before you can escape your apartment, however, you must enact the safe evacuation part of your disaster plan. Identify all possible escape routes from your apartment. The front door may be easiest, but flames may block it off, so be aware of all of the windows in the apartment from which you can escape.
If you’re not on the ground floor, you may be unable to safely jump from a window. If so, stuff blankets or pillows under the door and wait near the open window for rescue and resort to jumping out only when the flames reach the room you’re in.
During a fire, crawl on the ground to avoid inhaling the smoke and cover your mouth with a cloth if possible. You can then use the cloth to grab door handles, which may be burning hot to the touch, if you need to open a door to escape.
Even if you had a minor fire that you managed to put out yourself, you should leave the apartment as soon as possible and have it checked over by the fire department or the utility department to make sure it’s safe to return to the apartment. Once the fire is put out and the fire department gives you the all clear to return to your apartment, contact your landlord right away about fixing the damages in the apartment. If you weren’t the cause of the fire, everything should be covered by your landlord. If you were the cause, you may have to negotiate terms of repayment or use insurance to cover the damages.
Having a disaster plan in mind can help you spring into action quickly should a disaster such as a fire strike your apartment. Remember to stay calm and prioritize your survival over saving material things.