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Be fire smart in your apartment, hotel

Are you an apartment dweller? Or do you enjoy an occasional stay in a hotel or motel? The theme for the last few blogs has been fire safety at home – but sometimes home is in an apartment and sometimes a hotel or motel becomes your home away from home. Wherever you live – even if it is just for a few days – it’s good to keep fire safety in mind.

Just like living in a typical stick-built house or a manufactured home, if you live in an apartment it’s critical to think through how you can prevent fire and respond to a fire alarm.

Here are some tips for apartment dwellers from the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Know the locations of all exit stairs from your floor. If the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke, you may need to use another exit.

  • Know where the manual fire alarm boxes are in your building. (These are the alarm boxes on the wall with a pull bar.) Most are found within five feet of an exit door.

  • If there is a fire, pull the manual fire alarm box handle on your way out of the building. (Make sure to call the fire department once you are safely outside.)

  • Leave the building right away if you hear the sound of a fire alarm. Stay outside at your pre-determined meeting place until you are told the building is safe.

  • Treat every fire alarm as an emergency. When the alarm sounds, get outside.

  • Only use a manual fire alarm box if there is smoke or fire. Frequent false alarms are a problem because people may begin to ignore the sound if they hear too many false alarms. In addition, false alarms can put firefighters at risk.

  • If the fire alarm sounds, feel the door before opening. If it is hot, use another way out. If it is cool, use this exit to quickly leave the building.

  • Close all doors behind you as you leave. Take the key to your apartment with you in case you are not able to get out of the building.

  • If fire or smoke is blocking all exits, return or stay in your apartment. Keep the door closed. Cover cracks around the door with rolled up towels or tape. Call 9-1-1 and let the fire department know you are trapped. Signal from the window by waving a flashlight or light-colored cloth.


This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week which we observed the second week of October was “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware – fire can happen anywhere.”

Yep, even if you are on vacation or on a business trip, that doesn’t mean that fire isn’t a risk. (In fact, one of every 13 hotels or motels reports a structure fire each year.)

So, it is just as important to be prepared and know what you would do in a hotel/motel emergency as it is in your own home.


  • Choose a hotel/motel that is protected by both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system.

  • When you check in, ask the front desk what the fire alarm sounds like.

  • Take the time to find the exits and to count the number of doors between your room and the exit. Make sure the exits are unlocked. If they are locked, report it to management right away.

  • Keep your room key by your bed and take it with you if there is a fire.

  • If the alarm sounds, leave right away, closing all doors behind you. Use the stairs – never use elevators during a fire.

  • If you must escape through smoke, get down low and go under the smoke to your exit.

  • If you can’t escape, immediately shut off fans and air conditioners. Stuff wet towels in the crack around the doors, call the fire department and let them know your location. Then, wait at the window and signal with a flashlight or light-colored cloth.

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