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FAQs (continued)


I had to participate in Fire Drills at school when I was young. Now I'm in college; don't you think I can find my way out? Two things: First, in a building fire, dense smoke can make it impossible for you to see where you are. And, second, the possibility of being badly burned (or worse) can lead even the most level headed among us to panic and throw common sense to the wind. Multiply that by the number of people also trying to escape and you have a recipe for disaster. That's why it's imperative for occupants of a building to know what to do in a real emergency without having to invent an escape scenario under a panic situation. Not only will practicing over and over make exiting a building become second nature, but any exiting problems that arise will become apparent and can be remedied before disaster strikes.

What if the electricity does go off? Most emergency and exit lights are required to have back-up power, which can be either batteries or an in-house generator. If the electricity fails, the backup power should provide enough light, via emergency lights, to safely lead all occupants out of the building. Emergency lights should provide light up to 1-1/2 hours after the electricity goes out.

How will I know a fire alarm? Do they sound different from other alarms, like a police siren, for instance? A fire alarm can be almost anything, just as long as it's loud enough to alert all of the occupants of a building of the possibility of a fire. The alarm can be a bell, a buzzer, an electronic noise, or even a voice that provides instructions. Strobe lights may also be incorporated into the fire alarm system to alert the hearing impaired. Practicing a Fire Drill routine will ensure that all occupants recognize their fire alarm and know what to do once it sounds.

What should I expect to see in a stairway during an emergency? If the emergency is a fire, all you should encounter is emergency lighting and people like you making an orderly withdrawal to the exits. There may be some smoke, but stairwells that meet current code will probably have a smoke evacuation system to pull any smoke in the stairway to the outside. The important thing is don't panic; continue to move to the outside.

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