Following a retirement community apartment fire, NFPA reminds you about 10 Remembering When high-rise safety tips

Blog Post created by ryansweezey on Nov 4, 2015
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Timo Juurakko gives a Remembering When presentation in Maple Ridge, British Columbia

Last week, a fire in a Birmingham, Ala. retirement community displaced 80 people from their high-rise apartments. Firefighters carried out residents by hand, and later discovered the body of a man on one of the building’s upper floors, who Birmingham Police say appeared to have died of natural causes.


In light of this recent event, we’d like to make you aware of +Remembering When++, +a Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help older adults live safely at home for as long as possible. Please also take a moment to learn the following high-rise safety tips.

For the best protection, select a fully-sprinklered building. If your building is not sprinklered, ask the landlord or management to consider installing a sprinkler system. !http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1713b32970c-250wi|src=http://nfpa.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1713b32970c-250wi|alt=Fire 5 Smoke alarms save lives|style=width: 250px; margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Fire 5 Smoke alarms save lives|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1713b32970c img-responsive!

    1. Meet with your landlord/building manager to learn about the fire safety features of your building (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans, and how to respond to an alarm). Insist all fire safety systems be kept in working order.

    2. Know the locations of all exit stairs from your floor in case the nearest is blocked by fire or smoke.

    3. Learn the location of your building’s fire alarms and how to use them.

    4. Make sure your apartment has smoke alarms. Push the test buttons on your alarms to make sure each alarm is working. If you can’t safely reach smoke alarms, ask for help. Be able to recognize the sound of your alarm.

    5. Make sure all exit and stairwell doors are clearly marked, aren’t locked or blocked by security bars, and are clear of clutter.

    6. If you use a wheelchair or walker or can’t make it down the stairs in case of an emergency, talk with your landlord or building manager about purchasing an evacuation chair.

    7. If there’s a fire, close all doors behind you and be sure to take your key. Pull the fire alarm on your way out of the building to notify the fire department and your neighbors.

    8. Leave the building by the fastest route but do not use elevators. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.

If you can’t get out of your apartment, STUFF wet towels or sheets around the door and vents to keep smoke out. CALL the fire department and tell them where you are. OPEN a window slightly and wave a bright cloth to signal your location. Be prepared to close the window if it makes the smoke condition worse. Fire department evacuation of a high-rise building can take a long time.

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Ted Beckman gives safety information to older adults in Fort Collins, Colo.


NFPA teaches people of all ages how to make responsible choices regarding health and safety. One of our most important commitments is to give people the knowledge and skills they need to lead safer lives. We invite you to download, print and share free tip sheets on a variety of fire and life safety topics including fire causes, escape planning, fire and safety equipment, household equipment, seasonal concerns, occupancies, populations, unintentional injuries, outdoors and vehicles.</p>