Here’s the situation: You’re at work in a high rise building in downtown Houston. The sudden shriek of the office’s Houston fire alarms goes off. After many surprise fire drills, you think this alarm is another ‘test’. You quickly find out that you aren’t being quizzed on your knowledge of getting out of the building in a safe manner. This is the REAL DEAL. Human resources have tried to prepare everyone in the building for an emergency such as a fire, but practice drills do not compare to reality. Now you’re in a burning building, panicking because you’re not sure where to go or what to do. This is where our tips kick in:
Feel Your Door
Whether you’re in your own office with the door shut or you’re on a closed-off floor with the rest of your colleagues, ALWAYS FEEL THE DOOR. Notice we said door, not handle. Door handles heat up quickly and can burn your hand. The last thing you need in an emergency is to be tending to a burn. If the door is warm, you need to find another exit. If it’s cool, procedure out the door with caution, using a piece of decently thick clothing as a barrier between you and the door handle. Even if the door is cool,
there may be heavy smoke on the other side. If upon opening the door smoke begins to fill the area you’re in, close the door. If the fire itself doesn’t kill you, the smoke inhalation will. Be smart about proceeding onward.
…or smoke poured in upon opening the door. Close the door, stay where you are and call 911 to inform them that you are trapped in the building. Let them know where they can find you within the building. Open windows, if possible, and hang something fairly large and brightly colored (an article of clothing, a towel, and sheet, etc) outside the window to grab attention. Hang the item in the window frame if opening the window isn’t an option, but never break the window open. This tactic will help emergency personnel find you faster. While you wait for firefighters to rescue you, seal up all vents and door frames with whatever you have available (tape, towels, clothing). This will greatly minimize the amount of smoke getting into where you are, thus giving firefighters more time to find you.
Let’s Assume The Door is Cool…
…and no smoke is coming in, or the smoke is minimal. Get away from where you currently are and find the nearest stairway. NEVER take elevators when there’s a fire. Elevators can get very hot, malfunction, and/or take you directly to the fire. If any of these things happen, you’re doomed. If you see smoke, get down on the floor and begin crawling to the exit. Smoke can quickly fill the lungs and suffocate you. The lower you are, the purer the air will be. If possible, wet a towel and put it over your face to reduce the amount of smoke that’s getting into your eyes, mouth, and lungs. Make your way outside to the designated meeting area as quickly and safely as possible.
Unknowingly The Two Worst Places To Go in a Fire
If you’re somewhere with a balcony, don’t automatically move to the balcony unless it’s the absolute only option left. You might become trapped on the balcony, which limits firefighters from helping you get out of the building. The roof should also be avoided. Despite the portrayal of large buildings being engulfed in flames in movies, the roof isn’t a practical place to be. Rooftop rescues are rare, dangerous, and very few areas are equipped to handle such a rescue.
If your company doesn’t already have a fire exit plan or haven’t practiced it with you, inquire HR about creating a plan and doing a test run. For help, turn to a Houston fire protection company, such as Advantage, to give tips and advice on fire safety. We can check your Houston fire suppression devices, Houston fire alarms, and Houston fire sprinklers to make sure everything is in working order. These maintenance checks may seem like overkill to some, but you’ll be happy when lives are saved during a fire because of it.