Recent fires put spotlight on safety in apartment buildings

Apartment complexes present unique fire dangers that are not present in many other types of residential areas. For this reason, residents and building managers should understand particular fire hazards and work to reduce these risks.

Apartments fires are often more dangerous than other types of fires because:

Fires can spread quickly from unit to unit. Since an apartment is essentially a closely-packed neighborhood, a fire can destroy many homes and belongings very quickly.

Inadequate parking. This can result in blocked fire hydrants, blocked fire lanes, or difficulty leaving the building.

Lack of fire exits. Often apartment units have only one exit.

Wooden stairwells. A burning stairway or walkway can prevent residents from exiting the building.

Inadequate alarm systems. Without proper alarms, residents may not know that the building is on fire. Therefore, it may be too late to escape safely by the time the fire danger is apparent.

Preventing Apartment Fires and Injuries

Residents should take proper precautions to prevent fires and keep everyone in the building safe:

Check your smoke alarms. Depending on the age of the building, smoking alarms may be required inside each unit, outside in the hallway, or inside the sleeping area itself. Check the batteries frequently and replace them as needed, at least once per year.

Know the locations of fire extinguishers. An apartment is required to have a fire extinguisher inside each unit or down the hallway within a certain distance of each room.

Do not overload sockets. Use a power strip with shock protection or an automatic shut-off system.

Do not use extension cords for long periods of time or under rugs or carpet. Extension cords should only be used as temporary solutions and should never be overloaded.

Buy tools and appliances with automatic shut-off functions. If you accidentally leave them on, they will turn themselves off automatically. Look for auto shut-off functions in irons, ovens, stovetops, and hair curling and straightening tools.

Do not use barbecue or charcoal grills on apartment patios.

Never park in front of fire hydrants or in fire lanes.

Always fully extinguish cigarettes in an ash tray.

Know at least two different ways to exit your apartment. Memorize your fire escape plan and have a designated meeting spot for family members.

Be sure that there is a number on your apartment door. Unmarked doors may go overlooked by a fire rescue team, and numbers help firefighters determine which rooms to enter.

By following these guidelines, apartment residents can ensure the safety of other residents. To learn more about fire safety and accident prevention, visit the website of the Iowa personal injury attorneys of LaMarca & Landry, P.C.

Joseph Devine

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