How to Survive a Fire in a Public Building
Consider your personal safety before you enter a public building.
Look at the doors and windows. Door and window security bars that lack quick-release mechanisms could slow or impede escape if there is a fire. Narrow exits or too few exits, and exit doors that open inward, instead of out toward the street, are also danger signs.
Based on building design and other criteria, buildings are rated for a certain number of people to be inside at a given time. Too many people inside could overload the exiting arrangement in an emergency, making it difficult for people to safely escape. If the building looks or feels overcrowded, don’t go inside.
Once inside a building, immediately look around. Look up, toward the ceiling. Can you see fire sprinkler heads spaced along piping, or inset in the ceiling? If you can, that’s a good sign.
You must be able to see EXIT signs and the exit doors they identify. If you cannot, leave immediately.
All exits should be clearly marked with the doors unlocked and unobstructed. All pathways leading to the doors should be clear.
If you enter a public building and cannot easily locate exit signs and doors, or if you see exit doors with padlocks or obstructions, leave immediately. Inform local fire officials if you notice padlocked exits in any public building.
If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, such as open flames on candles or torches, or perhaps pyrotechnics displays don’t stay. Leave the building if you don’t feel safe.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to respond immediately if there is an emergency. If you hear the fire alarm sound, don’t assume it is a false alarm even if others don’t respond. React fast, moving quickly but calmly toward the exit that is closest to you.
Remember that the closest exit could be behind you. And remember that the closest exit isn’t necessarily the door you came in.
If you are on an upper floor of the building when the alarm goes off, use the stairs to exit; don’t use the elevator.
As soon as you are outside, move well away from the building and meet up with the rest of your party. Stay clear of fire and emergency vehicles.
It’s a good idea to have a meeting plan when you are out with friends – know in advance where you will meet, or how you will contact one another – if you get separated.
When choosing a hotel, it’s good practice to ask if fire sprinklers are installed in all guest rooms before you make hotel reservations.