High-rise buildings are designed and constructed to withstand normal fires. Modern structures are built with fire-resistant walls between units and equipped with sprinkler systems to help stop fire from spreading.

Despite those safeguards, residents of high-rise buildings are still at risk from fire, smoke and toxic fumes and need to familiarize themselves with their building's safety features as well as develop a fire safety plan for emergencies.

Have an escape plan

  • Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do and where to go in a fire.
  • Know the location of all fire exits and stairwells in your building.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the fire alarm boxes are.
  • Encourage and participate in building fire drills.
  • Make sure doors to stairways and fire escapes aren't blocked or locked.
  • Check regularly to see that you can open doors from both sides.

Install smoke detectors

  • Install smoke detectors outside sleeping areas on every level of your home.
  • Test them once a month and change batteries twice a year when you change your clocks.

Call 911

  • Call 911 to report a fire in your high-rise building even if you think someone else may have already called.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows about the fire and is evacuating the building.
  • Alert your neighbors by banging on their doors on your way out.
  • Set off the hallway fire alarm, if there is one.
  • Use the stairs to escape, not the elevator, because you may become trapped inside.
  • Before opening doors, check them with the back of your hand to see if they are warm. If so, do not open them because the fire is on the other side.
  • Don't delay for valuables.
  • Don't go back inside, even for pets, once you're out until a fire department official gives the all clear.

If your escape routes are blocked

  • Put damp towels, cushions or bedding around the bottom of the door and tape around the edges or stuff material into the crack between the door and the frame to keep out smoke.
  • Close any vents and cover them with material or tape.
  • Move everyone into one room, preferably one with a window that opens and a phone or cell phone.
  • Call 911 to report that you are trapped and give your location.
  • Open the window and wave a sheet or a towel so firefighters will know you are there.
  • If your door becomes hot, wet it down.
  • Do not open the door to investigate the fire.

For more information on high-rise safety for residents, visit the U.S. Fire Administration site at: http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/safety/atrisk/high-rise/high-rise.shtm