Apartment Safety 



Learn what to do if a fire happens in your building. This page contains general advice for tenants of buildings that are three storeys high or more. If you live in a building with fewer than three storeys, talk to your superintendent or landlord and work out a personal fire safety plan.

Every fire is different. You must act quickly when you hear the alarm or discover a fire. You must always protect yourself from smoke. Remember, most people die from smoke, not fire. Here’s what to do:

Fire in your apartment…

Tell everyone in your apartment to leave. Close all doors behind you. Pull the fire alarm pull station on your floor and yell fire.

  • Leave the building using the nearest exit stairwell.
  • Call the fire department … using 9-1-1 … when you’re safe.
  • Meet the firefighters at the front entrance and tell them where the fire is.
  • DO NOT re-enter the building for any reason.


Upon Hearing the Fire Alarm.. to go or to stay.. the decision is YOURS!

Most of the time, the best thing to do in a fire is leave the building as soon as possible. But in some cases you may not be able to leave safely and you may have to stay in your apartment. In either case, you must act quickly. No matter what your decision, you must protect yourself from the smoke.

  • Turn off any appliances you may be using, including the stove, curling irons, kettle, etc.
  • Feel the door before opening it. If it is warm or smoke starts to enter, quickly shut the door and remain in your unit. Take the appropriate actions below to protect yourself.
  • If the door is not hot and there’s no smoke, leave the building via the nearest exit, closing all doors behind you.
  • If you encounter smoke in the hall or stairwell, quickly exit the building using your alternative exit.



If the smoke is heavy in the corridor, it may be safer to remain in your apartment/area. Close the door and place a wet towel at the base of the door. If you encounter smoke in the stairway, use an alternate exit or if all of the stairways are affected, it may be safer to stay in your area.

If you stay or have to return to your apartment take the following actions…

You must protect yourself from smoke. Stay in your apartment until you are rescued or until you’re told it’s safe to leave.

  • Keep smoke from entering your apartment. Use duct tape to seal cracks around the door and place wet towels at the bottom. Seal vents or air ducts the same way.
  • If smoke still enters your apartment, telephone the fire department using 911. Tell them where you are and move to the balcony. Close the doors behind you.
  • If you don’t have a balcony, go to the most smoke-free room, close the door and seal it with tape and towels. Open the window for fresh air.
  • Show your rescuers where you are by hanging a sheet from the window or balcony.
  • Keep low to the floor where the air is cleaner.
  • Listen for instructions from authorities.


Know Your Building

  • You should know where your exits are and your nearest fire alarm pull station. This knowledge may save your life.
  • Make your Family Fire Escape Plan now and practice it so you and your family know what to do in the event of fire.
  • Check for two exits. Make a simple floor plan showing both exits. Walk the distance, actually counting the number of steps. Plan both your escape route and your meeting place.
  • In an emergency, hallway and exit lighting may be out. Make sure that you can follow your escape plan in the dark.
  • Have a family meeting to discuss your escape plan and the fire safety information on this page.
  • Participate in the fire drills conducted by the management of your building.


Associated Information & Documents

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