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Fire safety in high-rise buildings

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Do you work in a high-rise office building? Maybe you’ll be visiting one for an upcoming meeting. Either way, you need to know what to do if the fire alarm sounds.

Prepare

Find out what the building’s evacuation plan is. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency says it should be posted in high-traffic areas.

Next, you and your co-workers should routinely practice your floor’s escape plan. Remember: Fire exits, doorways, halls and stairways should never be blocked. If you notice that a fire safety system device is damaged, report it to management right away.

If the alarm does sound

You’re in your office and the fire alarm goes off. Before opening the door to exit, stay calm and follow these steps from IEMA:

  • Feel the door with the back of your hand. If it’s warm, don’t open it.
  • Stay put and stuff the cracks around the door with towels, clothing or tape. Cover the vents to help keep smoke out.
  • Call 911 to let the fire department know your precise location.
  • Wait at a window and signal for help by waving a piece of clothing or using a flashlight.

Even if your door is cool to the touch, you should still be cautious, IEMA says. While staying low to the ground, open the down slightly to check for smoke or fire on the other side. If your path is clear, follow your office’s evacuation plan. However, if you encounter smoke or fire, go back to your office and follow the steps listed above.

Once you make it out of the building, do not go back in for any reason until given the all-clear by the fire department.

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