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Fire Emergency Tips for Chicagoland Apartment Residents


    Two in 10 Americans live in an apartment or condo. That may not sound like a lot, but that translates to 56 million people! From 2010 until the end of 2019, Chicago added an average of 5,200 new apartments to the market each year. In Cook County alone, there are close to 800,000 rental properties, most of those being apartments. When it comes to the safety of all those individuals who live in apartments, they need to be aware of how to best protect themselves from fires because they face concerns that differ from those living in single dwelling homes.

    For example, a free standing home will usually offer a number of escape routes in an emergency, but apartments commonly do not, especially those situated on upper floors. Additionally, apartments can be more perilous to live in because a fire that originates in one can affect several others. In fact, it’s unusual to go more than a month without seeing a story about a Chicago area multi-unit apartment fire in the news.

    If you live in an apartment, this article contains some valuable fire safety tips to remember so you know what to do if a fire breaks out in your building.

    Know the Fire Alarm System

    Although the idea of an apartment fire can be terrifying, the building’s fire alarm system can help to warn residents of danger. Here are some points you need to remember concerning those fire alarms:

    • Fire alarm systems consist of smoke detectors, fire alarms, and manual fire alarm boxes. But the smoke detectors and the fire alarms aren’t connected. This prevents everyone in the building having to evacuate just because someone burnt their toast.
    • Identify the locations of the manual fire alarm boxes in your building so you can get to them quickly in an emergency. They’re usually placed near the exits.
    • If you’re evacuating a building because of a fire and no alarm has yet sounded, activate the manual fire alarm box on your way out.
    • If you hear an alarm, don’t ignore it! Treat it as an actual emergency and evacuate immediately! Don’t reenter your apartment until given permission by the fire department.
    • Don’t activate the manual alarm box unless you see smoke or fire. False alarms may cause your neighboring residents to ignore future fire alarms and they compel the fire department to treat them as emergencies.

    Create a Fire Evacuation Plan

    Evacuating an apartment building during a fire is a bit more complicated than evacuating a home. Follow these tips to help you prepare a fire evacuation plan from your apartment:

    • Be familiar with where all sets of stairs are. You may need to use an alternative staircase if the one closest to you is blocked.
    • Before leaving your apartment, touch the front door with the back of your hand to confirm the hallway is safe. If it’s hot, use another exit.
    • Pocket the keys to your apartment as you leave in case you’re unable to safely evacuate the building and close all doors behind you.
    • If you cannot safely exit (for example, from an upper story), stay in your apartment and dial 911. Then seal up the door and air vents with wet towels or duct tape to stop smoke from entering, open a window and yell for help. Wave a bright piece of cloth or flash a light so the firefighters can spot you.

    The best thing for an apartment dweller to do is to practice safety at all times

    • Never block windows or doors with heavy furniture.
    • Don’t let trash accumulate in the apartment or around the building.
    • Keep your kitchen clean of any greasy buildup.
    • Don’t store flammable materials in the apartment.
    • Report any possible fire hazards to your building superintendent.
    • If action isn’t taken, report the conditions to the fire department or other authorities.

    If you’re looking to rent a new apartment, first check any potential unit and building for working smoke detectors and fire alarms. Indicate any fire safety fears you have before signing a lease. If you’re a Chicagoland apartment building owner or manager who has experienced a fire loss, be sure to contact ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons immediately. We have the ability and resources to restore fire damaged structures quickly and efficiently to their original pre-loss condition, decreasing the amount of lost revenue you may experience.

    About Us: ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-839-5542 or visit or



    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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