Apartment Fire Safety 101

Did you know that between 2010-2015, there were 109,000 apartment fires, causing 400 deaths, 4,170 injuries, and $1.3 million in property damage (NFPA)? Don't find yourself without the right information in the middle of an emergency like an apartment fire. Learn how to prepare, prevent, and what to do after an apartment fire.

Before an Apartment Fire

Test Your Fire Alarms Regularly

This is apartment fire safety 101. Your landlord should regularly be testing your fire alarms, but whether they’re on top of it or not, you should be checking them yourself. Make sure that the batteries are working and are in the unit correctly. Experts recommend doing this once a month. Pick a date and put it in your calendar!

Remove Fire Hazards

Take some time to think about the hazards in your apartment and remove them -- it’s better to be safe than sorry. Items that are likely to cause an apartment fire include:

  • Candles
  • Hotplates
  • Space heaters
  • Dryer lint in the dryer
  • Overloaded electrical cords

Finally, smoking is tied to many apartment fires and is considered to be a fire hazard.

Remember the Basics

Take time to re-familiarize yourself with the information you learned during elementary school fire drills:

  • If you smell smoke, get low to the ground.
  • Before opening a door, touch the handle to see if it is hot before opening.
  • Try to get towels, bed sheets, or other types of cloth wet. Cover the cracks in the door to prevent smoke from getting into your apartment.
  • Crawl to safety or open a window and wave a brightly colored piece of cloth outside of the window so that a responder can see you from the ground.

Know Your Escape Route

When you’re searching for an apartment to rent, asking your landlord about escape routes in case of an apartment fire should be a top priority. If it’s a great apartment but isn’t safe, it isn’t worth it. Make sure that you would know how to get out of the building quickly if there were a fire and if you were unable to see very well. If you live only a few stories up, you might want to invest in a fire escape ladder. Here are a few more tips on escape routes from the National Fire Protection Association.

Protect Your Property

If an apartment fire occurred, what would you do if you lost everything? As a renter, you aren’t responsible for the building, but you would be responsible for all of your personal things. That’s why we recommend having renters insurance. In the event of a fire, all of your insured items would be covered and replaced.

After an Apartment Fire

An apartment fire can be devastating, both emotionally and physically. After an apartment fire, make sure to do the following things:

  • If you need it, seek medical attention - Especially if you have a burn or inhaled smoke, don’t be embarrassed or concerned about seeking medical attention immediately.
  • Call your insurance agent - Because you hopefully had renters insurance, your agent can help you document the damage and begin the process of getting you a check to replace your items quickly.
  • Contact the landlord - No matter how big or small the fire was, the landlord needs to know so that they can get their insurance company to look at the damage and get it fixed as soon as possible.
  • Create a support network - When something as serious as an apartment fire occurs, call on your friends, and even seek professional counseling, to help deal with physical needs (such as a place to stay overnight) and emotional needs (such as any potential PTSD from a traumatic event).

Sometimes, one of the best things you can do after an apartment fire is start your apartment search for a new home sweet home.

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