What to Do If You Hear the Fire Alarm Go Off in Your Apartment Building

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Written by Bernie Carr

Have you ever considered what you would do if you were to hear the fire alarms go off in your apartment building? You should give it some thought as it might happen to you.

A short while ago, the fire alarms in my building started going off a little after 11 pm. Needless to say, it was very bothersome to get waken up like that, but this is something you can’t ignore. We live in the third floor so we were very concerned about a possible fire. So we quickly bundled up, put our shoes on and went downstairs.

So what should you do if you hear the fire alarm in your building?

I realize it is a big pain when you find out it is a false alarm, but think about the consequences if it turned out to be a real fire. I was glad to know it was a false alarm. This is just one of the risks of living in a multi-family dwelling like an apartment complex or condo.

So if you hear the fire alarm go off, take it seriously. Here are some tips:

  • Have your shoes and clothes next to your bed so you can easily put them on.
  • Know where the fire extinguisher is located.
  • Learn the closest exits to your unit. If the exit is blocked by fire or smoke, find an alternate exit. Be careful touching the doorknob as it may be hot.
  • If you are unable to find an exit out of your floor, return to your apartment, close the door and cover the crack below and around the door to seal the entry against smoke. Call 911 and let emergency services know you are trapped in your apartment
  • Do not take the elevator, take the stairs.
  • Once you are out of the building, go a distance away, such as across the street.
  • Stay away from the main entrance where the fire department will be accessing the building.
  • If there is a fire, once you are outside, do not try to re-enter the building until you get the “all clear.”
  • Have a plan on what you will do with your pet in the event of a fire.

What happened in our building?

Once we started walking outside, we saw other tenants outside and they were just as mystified. We walked around the perimeter of the complex but did not spot any fires. A fire truck responded to the alarm; after about half an hour, we were cleared to go back inside. We later learned that a small fire started in the social room kitchen in the inner courtyard (that’s why we didn’t see anything from the outside) while one of the tenants was hosting a party. The fire was quickly extinguished. Fortunately, there was very minimal damage and no one was hurt.

The bottom line is, when you hear a fire alarm go off in your building, don’t assume it’s just a drill or false alarm. Take it seriously and get out safely. If it turns out to be nothing, it’s an inconvenience you can put up with; and this is preferable to the dire consequence of ignoring it and finding out too late. Always be mindful of fire safety.

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About the author

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and Clark.com, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.

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