SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Fire can be a frightening experience for anyone, but the fear is often greater for those living in apartments, condos, and dormitories.

It is especially challenging to maintain fire safety in multi-unit residential buildings because many residents live close together. Evacuation routes could become confusing, and many residents rarely think about fire hazards. If you live in an apartment, however, understanding the risks of fire and knowing how to prevent them could save your life.

Apartment safety tips according to the U.S Fire Administration

  • Don’t prop open exit or stairway doors. These are installed to slow the spread of heat and smoke if there is a fire.
  • Speak to your apartment manager if you see a damaged smoke alarm, fire extinguisher, or emergency light that has burned out.
  • Make sure your apartment has working smoke alarms. Have a smoke alarm inside each sleeping room. Test them every month. Replace the batteries every year.
  • Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor.
  • Learn your building evacuation plan if you have one.

In the event of a fire

  • If your door feels warm to the touch, do not open it. Call 911 and tell the dispatcher your apartment number and that you can’t open your door.
  • Stuff the cracks around the door with towels, rags, bedding or tape. Cover vents.
  • If your apartment door is cool to the touch, open it slowly. Stay low and check for smoke or fire in the hallway. If the hallway is safe, follow your building’s evacuation plan.
  • Never use an elevator to escape a fire. Always use the stairs.

There were 14 apartment fires in San Angelo in 2022, all of which could have been avoided. CVHP staff talked with the San Angelo Fire Department about fire safety and found that the most common cause of apartment fires in San Angelo is started by cooking on the stove and leaving the food unattended and by bathroom exhaust fans/heaters.

The most common fire safety violations by apartment complexes in San Angelo are smoke detectors not working, electrical junction boxes with missing cover plates and fire extinguishers not being maintained properly.

The most common fire safety violations by tenants in San Angelo are keeping storage in front of electrical panels, stacking storage too close to the ceiling and misuse of surge protectors and extension cords.

For more information on common fire safety violations, go here.