x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Living in high-rise apartments, it never hurts to plan for the worst

Knowing what to do and where to go if a fire starts in a high-rise buliding is essential to safely escaping, experts say. Use stairs and know which children each parent will be taking

DUBAI // You can never be 100 per cent prepared for a fire in a high-rise tower, but having a plan and knowing the escape routes can mean the difference between life and death.

People can be unpredictable when faced with danger, said Barry Bell, managing director of Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants.

"Some perform very well when exposed to certain danger and others panic beyond belief," Mr Bell said.

Patrick Carey, managing director of Locke Carey, said it was crucial that residents of high-rises knew exactly what to do.

"One of the simplest things that many people lack is an evacuation plan for their home," Mr Carey said.

People living in towers are urged to contact their building's management company for a copy of the evacuation plan.

"If they're unable to provide something like that, they should go to Civil Defence and seek assistance from them," Mr Bell said.

"They should have a manual for safe evacuation."

If a fire starts in the middle of the night, families often have only minutes to spare.

It is important that parents prepare by deciding which children each of them would take to safety in an emergency.

"It's a simple precautionary plan and this needs to be decided beforehand," Mr Carey said.

Important items and documents such as passports, wallets and credit cards should be left in a safe but easily accessible place, along with car and house keys.

Many of the residents of Tamweel Tower have faced huge difficulties paying for hotel bills as their wallets, important documents and identification were destroyed in the fire.

"You cannot underestimate how fast a fire grows," Mr Bell said. "You can become trapped in your apartment because you wasted 10 to 15 seconds.

"You don't have time to waste. Unfortunately, often people will not understand this if they have not been in a firefighting situation, or been lucky enough to escape a fire in the past."

The safest route to escape fire in a high-rise apartment building is the stairs. You are also more likely to meet firefighters there, and they can give you protective equipment and escort you to safety.

"If you are not sure how an evacuation plan works in your tower, practise it with your family," said Mr Bell.

"If the kids are old enough to understand, show them how to escape safely and quickly."




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