Office buildings and schools are required by law to have a fire drill from time to time. The purpose of fire drills is to test fire alarm systems, but also to help people figure out what they should do in case of a fire emergency.
Each time your fire alarm system goes off, you should act quickly, even if you know it’s only a fire drill. Knowing what to do and being able to do it as fast as possible is the best way to be ready for a real emergency. Here is how you should react during a fire drill.
1. Stop everything you are doing
No matter what you are doing when the fire alarm goes off, you must stop immediately. In a real fire emergency, every second counts. This is no time to look for your coat or to gather your things; get up and start moving towards the door.
Remember to stay calm when the fire alarm goes off. Fire alarm systems are loud so everyone in the building can hear them when they go off. When you hear an alarm, be sure not to panic. Even if you know it’s only a fire drill, practice staying calm as you evacuate the building.
2. Leave the room you are in
If there are other people in the room with you, line up and wait for your turn to exit the room. If you are the last person to leave the room, take a second to close the door, without locking it. This would help slow the fire, and block smoke and heat from moving from one room to the other.
3. Start walking towards the nearest exit
As soon as you enter a building, you should make it a habit to locate the exits and emergency exits. If the fire drill is happening in the building where you work, you should be able to tell where the nearest exit is with no hesitation. If you are not familiar with the building, look for red exit signs. Stay calm and don’t run; simply walk to the nearest exit.
If you are not on the first floor of the building, use the stairs to go down. Don’t use the elevator, as it could be dangerous during a real fire. It could also be very slow and ineffective. Think about what would happen if everyone tried to evacuate the building using the same elevator, and you should understand why using the stairs is a more reliable choice.
4. Pay attention to smoke signs
On some occasions, the people in charge of the fire drill will put up smoke signs in a hallway to simulate a real fire. If you see smoke as you are trying to evacuate the building, try to find another way out.
If there is no other way out, get down and crawl low under the smoke to safely get out of the building.
5. Get out of the building
Walk out or crawl out of the building, and stay out. Even if you know it’s only a fire drill, you should never go back inside to get your wallet or to look for a friend. During a real fire emergency, firefighters will be the ones in charge of making sure everyone is safe.
Finally, clear the sidewalks and move away from the building, to allow firefighters to come closer and to do their job. Don’t go back inside until the authorities have told you it was perfectly safe to do so.