To Go ? or To Stay?
Your safety depends on the right decision.
Your fire safety is your responsibility! If you live in an apartment or condominium, your safety also depends on the actions of the building management and other residents. Every fire is potentially dangerous and unpredictable, so do not underestimate the risk to your life. Fire and smoke move very quickly, and the conditions in any part of the building may change in an instant. Smoke can spread throughout a building and enter your suite even when the fire is many floors away. During an emergency, you will not have much time to decide what to do. Make sure you know what to do ahead of time.
- As soon as possible when you hear the fire alarm or discover a fire. The earlier you leave, the better are your chances of getting out safely no matter where you are located in relation to the fire area. It is extremely rare for stairways and corridors to be contaminated by smoke in the early stages of a fire. Proceed as quickly as possible to the outside.
- When the fire is in your suite. You are in immediate danger and should ensure that everyone who is in your suite leaves with you. If you have physical limitations, plan ahead to ensure that you can get the assistance you need to evacuate quickly. Close the suite door behind you. Activate the fire alarm system and warn other residents located on your floor as you exit the building. Call the fire department when it is safe to do so.
- When the fire is on your floor or the floor below you. You are at high risk and should evacuate as quickly as possible if you have reason to believe that the fire is on your floor or on the floor immediately below you. Activate the fire alarm system (if the bells are not yet ringing) and warn other residents located on your floor as you exit the building.
- If you encounter smoke in the corridor on your floor. This may be an indication that the fire is in an advanced stage or is located on your floor. If you cannot safely reach an exit stairway, return to your suite as quickly as possible. Take actions to protect yourself from smoke. Call the fire emergency number and provide details of your situation.
- If you encounter smoke in the exit stairs. The fire may have breached the stairway enclosure. Do not travel through smoke. Do not go to the roof. Re-enter the floor area immediately. If the corridor is free of smoke, try an alternate exit stairway. Otherwise, seek refuge in a suite on that floor as quickly as possible. Take actions to protect yourself from smoke. Call the fire emergency number and provide details of your situation.
- If instructed to remain in the suite by fire department personnel handling the fire emergency. Attempting to evacuate at this stage may expose you to smoke unnecessarily and may impede fire fighting operations. If you are located on the fire floor or on the floor immediately above the fire floor, you are at high risk and may require rescue. Take actions to protect yourself from smoke. Call the fire emergency number and provide details of your situation.
- If you are physically unable to use the stairs. Take actions to protect yourself from smoke. If you are located on the fire floor or on the floor immediately above the fire floor, you are at high risk and may require rescue. Call the fire emergency number and provide details of your situation.
The following steps can be taken to protect yourself from smoke entering the suite during a fire emergency:
- Use duct tape (masking tape may also be effective) to seal cracks around the door to your suite and place wet towels at the bottom. Seal vents, air ducts and other areas where smoke is entering the suite in the same manner.
- If smoke is worse in one room (e.g. bathroom), close the door and seal off the room with tape and wet towels as noted above.
- If the suite fills with smoke, move to the balcony (if you have one) and close the doors behind you. Take a cordless or cellular phone with you if available. Call the fire emergency number and provide details of your situation. Also, take warm clothes or blankets if the weather is cold.
- If you do not have a balcony, go to the most smoke-free room, close the door and seal it with tape and towels. Open the window for fresh air but be prepared to close it again if this makes the conditions worse. Never break the window to get fresh air or you will not be able to seal it off if conditions change
- Keep low to the floor where the air is cleaner.
Make sure that you have a roll of duct tape readily available. Duct tape can be purchased in most hardware stores.
- Fire In Your Apartment Building (pamphlet)
- Plan Ahead – Fire Safety In Apartment Buildings (pamphlet)
- If You Hear The Fire Alarm And Cannot Leave Your Apartment (door sticker)
Download instructions for “If You Hear The Fire Alarm and Cannot Leave Your Apartment” (PDF). It may be printed and taped to the inside of an apartment door.