You might not think you have to worry about your apartment fire safety if you’re a renter. After all, that’s the landlord’s job, right? Wrong. Even if your landlord is responsible for some fire safety features in your apartment, you still need to do plenty of things to help keep yourself safe.
Check for working smoke detectors
This one might seem obvious, but it’s important to ensure that all the smoke detectors in your apartment are in good working order. Like most devices, smoke detectors can degrade and become less effective over time. You should test your detectors monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. If you’re unsure how to test them, most manufacturers have helpful instructions on their websites. You should also change the batteries at least once a year.
Look for potential fire hazards
Take a walk around your apartment and look for anything that could potentially catch fire and cause problems. This includes overloaded electrical outlets, candles, and flammable liquids like gasoline or cleaning products.
Cooking and electrical fires are one of the most common causes of apartment fires. In fact, every year, about 51,000 home fires are caused by electrical problems. Be sure to keep an eye out for things like overloaded outlets. Frayed cords and damaged switch plates can also cause a house fire. If you see anything that looks like it could be a problem, make sure to unplug it and/or contact your landlord about the issue.
Look for a sprinkler system
The presence of a working sprinkler system in a building can increase your chances of survival during a house fire by as much as 90 percent. If your apartment complex has a sprinkler system, make sure you know how it works and where the pull station is located.
While most apartment complexes are not required to have sprinkler systems, many newer buildings are being built with them. If your building doesn’t have a sprinkler system, you might want to talk to your landlord about the possibility of installing one.
Assess if the bedroom doors can block smoke and flames
If there are gaps around the door even after you have closed it, chances are high that smoke and flames will be able to enter. When a fire begins in an apartment building, it spreads quickly from one unit to another. Smoke especially is dangerous because it can cause you to faint, preventing you from escaping from the building.
So, your doors are your first line of defense against a fire. Make sure they are solid and fit snugly in the frame. You might also want to invest in a doorstop to help keep the door shut if there’s a lot of pressure from smoke and flames on the other side.
In addition, check if your apartment is equipped with a fire damper. A fire damper is a type of door that is designed to block smoke and flames. They are usually installed on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. It automatically closes as soon as it detects smoke, potentially saving your life.
Find the exits
All buildings are required to have different points of exit in case of an emergency. You should be familiar with the exits in your building and know how to use them. In the event of a fire or any disaster, you will need to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
You should know where you can go to escape from your own apartment or the building when necessary. Any window and door can become a potential exit during an emergency. If you live on the ground floor, you can use a window to escape. If you are on a higher level, look for fire escapes or any other type of ladder that you can use to get down.
Check the Fire Extinguisher
The building should have an adequate number of fire extinguishers. Equally important, however, is whether it is new or not. An outdated fire extinguisher will be less effective in putting out a fire.
You should also know how to use a fire extinguisher properly. In general, you should aim the nozzle at the base of the fire and squeeze the handle. Be sure to point it away from your face and body.
In summary, it’s important to be aware of the potential fire risks in your apartment and take steps to reduce them. A fire can cause injuries or, worse, death. The safety features in an apartment can make all the difference in a fire emergency. Be sure to know the location of the exits and how to use them. Familiarize yourself with the sprinkler system and ensure it is in working order. Lastly, check your doors to see if they will block smoke and flames. By taking these precautions, you can help keep yourself safe in the event of a fire.