Building evacuation

Can it happen to you? Sure it can. A serious water leak, a fire, a natural gas leak, electrical failure, a police operation or the decovery of a chemical lab can all result in an evacuation.

So what should you do?
I suggest the following:
If the fire alarm is activated and it appears to be a real emergency, the fire department will advise you to stay in your apartment.

Use that time to get prepared for a possible evacuation. Collect your coat, wallet, cash, car keys, medications and cell phone. Put your pet on a leash or in a pet carrier.
If a firefighter orders an evacuation of a floor, part of the building or of all of the building, get out. Don't  fool around.

They will announce a partial or full evacuation using the audio announcing system that is part of your fire alarm system.
If you have time, grab your coats, car keys and your pet and head to the staircases.
Touch your apartment door with your bare hand before opening it. If it is hot, stay in the apartment. If the hallway is full of thick smoke, quickly close your door and stay in your apartment until help arrives. Once you get to the staircase, same thing, touch the door with a bare hand to make sure it is not hot.

Far more deaths and injuries are caused by smoke inhalation than from the flames.
Remember your neighbours. If there is anyone near you who needs assistance, and you are capable of providing it, offer to help. If you cannot help, inform a fire fighter or police officer.
When you leave the building, go a distance away from the building so you do not get hurt and you are not in the firefighters' way.
Do not try to go back into the building. It does not matter what it was that you forgot. Wait for the all clear from the fire fighters.
When outside, be very wary of traffic. Condos are surrounded by parking lots and driveways. There will be a lot of noise and confusion which can distract pedestrians and drivers.
You may not be allowed back into your home for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Have an idea where you can go and what you will do. You may or may not be able to get to your car.
Hopefully but it is unlikely that your building has evacuation rally points, fire wardens or any plan to insure everyone got out of the building safely or of keeping people informed.

If you plan to go to a nearby coffee shop, get there quickly because it will fill up very fast.

If you cannot return to your apartment
If there is an emergency that requires some or all residents to evacuate your building the senior fire fighter on the scene, the police or the city building inspectors can order you to leave. If you are already out of the building, they may refuse to allow you to return until it is safe.

So what happens then?
This information is from the city of Toronto.

The TTC sends “shelter buses” to keep residents safe and warm until a more permanent shelter, such as a community centre, is set up. The buses are free and they are pulled off nearby routes so they can head quickly to the site.

The buses are used to shuttle people as soon as a temporary shelter is ready.

Usually the highest ranking firefighter at the scene who makes the decision to evacuate a building. But police and Toronto Building staff also have that authority.

Once an evacuation is ordered, fire department dispatchers begin calling all the agencies needed to coordinate services for the residents. That includes the city, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other social service providers to ensure people have a place to stay, and food, water, blankets and anything else they might need.

Police officers stay on site to help residents evacuate, direct traffic, coordinate resources with the city and fire department, and keep residents updated.

The department that evacuates a building will decide when you can return.

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