When you’ve been in any public building, you’ll have seen signs that state ‘In the event of a fire, do not use the elevators’. Have you ever wondered why this is the case? Here’s why you should never use the elevator when a fire occurs, and more tips to keep yourself safe during a fire.
Why Can’t You Use the Elevator?
There are several reasons why you can’t use the elevator if you need to evacuate. Firstly, if there is a fire in the building, it can short out the electrics. These electrics will power, among other things, the elevators. If the electricity does go out, the elevator could stop between floors, trapping you. If the electronics short out at the wrong time, you may also see that the elevator will stop and open its doors on the floor that’s currently on fire.
Somehow if you can’t get out of the building, then you’re going to be in danger. Once the fire begins to spread, the smoke can easily flood the elevator shaft. This will suffocate anyone in the elevator at the time, and so is extremely dangerous. The movement of the elevator will act as a billows in the building, pushing air around and making it even easier for the fire to spread.
If everyone chooses to use elevators to get out of the building, you’ll see that the elevators become much heavier. Elevators are only rated for a certain weight capacity, so being heavier they could stop, trapping the people inside.
There’s also the fact that it’s simply quicker to evacuate a burning building via the stairs. There are only so many elevators in your building, and you may well have to wait to get onto an elevator and get out. This is going to waste valuable time, when you could be getting away from the fire and getting safe.
Finally, you need to consider the fire fighters that will come and put the fire out. Their priority should be putting the fire out when it happens. If they get there and find out people are trapped in elevators, that will have to become their priority. That means that they’ll have to put themselves at risk to save them, and it will delay the fire being put out.
How to Stay Safe During a Fire
So you know that if there is a fire, you should never use the elevators. How else can you evacuate and stay safe if there’s a fire? Here’s what you need to do.
1. Raise the alarm: The first thing you must do if you discover a fire is to raise the alarm. If you can, pull a fire alarm if there is one nearby. If there isn’t, you can start shouting to alert others to the fire.
2. Fight the fire if you can: If you are in a safe position to do so, you can fight the fire. This is the best thing to do if the fire is small enough for you to handle. In the building there should be fire extinguishers nearby. Grab one and use it to put the fire out. To do this, remember the acronym PASS:
- Pull the pin on the fire extinguisher.
- Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the trigger.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side, at the base of the fire.
If you’re not sure if you can handle the fire, it’s best not to attempt it. If you can’t, raise the alarm and evacuate as soon as possible.
3. Follow the plan: If you’re in a public building, you should have a fire evacuation plan in place. If so, ensure that you follow it and evacuate. This will ensure that you get out of the building as quickly and as safely as possible. Once you are outside, meet others from the building at the designated meeting spot, so you can be sure everyone has made their way outside.
How to Evacuate
If there’s a fire in the building, it’s frightening trying to get away from it. If you follow these steps though, you’ll find that you’re much safer and will be able to get out quicker.
1. Crawl on the ground: If you find the smoke is thick, you want to get down and crawl on the ground. This is because the air will be cleaner towards the floor. Use this to get out without inhaling too much smoke.
2. Don’t delay: If the alarm has been raised, do not delay getting out of the building. Don’t stop to collect belongings or anything else you think you might need. The number one priority is you getting out of the building.
3. Don’t rush: You want to get out quickly, because the longer you’re in the building, the more danger you are in. However, don’t rush to get out. If there is panic in those trying to leave, it can cause road blocks in the building, actually making it harder to leave. Move quickly but don’t rush to do so.
4. Close doors: When you’re making your way out of the building, ensure that you’re only opening door that you need to. If you come across any doors that are closed that you don’t need to go through, keep them closed. These doors will help stop fires spreading, so don’t open any door if you don’t need to.
5. Feel doors before you open them: If you have to go through a door, feel it with the back of your hand before you open it. If there’s a fire behind it, the door will feel warm to the touch. If that’s the case, do not open the door and find another way out.
6. Stay together: If you’re with others when the alarm is raised, ensure that you stay together as you evacuate. This will ensure that you are all safe.
The Bottom Line: Never Use an Elevator During a Fire
It’s vitally important that you do not use the elevator if there is a fire in your building. It’s much safer and quicker to use the stairs to get out, so ensure that you follow the evacuation plan should a fire happen.