Office Fires: Danger Ignored By Many

If a fire broke out in your office, would you know what to do?

Everyone who works in one should have a plan, stresses The Early Show consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen.

Experts say you'd have only minutes to escape, perhaps as few as two. And, warns Koeppen, that's often easier said than done.

There are 5,000 office fires in the United States each year. Many workers ignore fire alarms, and wouldn't know what to do in case of an actual fire.

John Fannin, who's with the SafePlace Corporation, is a fire safety expert who helps companies develop emergency evacuation plans. He says, even with regular fire drills, workers don't always get the message.

"Sometimes in office buildings, you hear the alarm, but you're busy working, and you don't really take it seriously," Koeppen adds.

"There's a lot of apathy to responding immediately to a fire alarm signal," Fannin agreed. "I think very few, if any, office workers have a plan."

Koeppen put four CBS sales executives to the test to see if they could make it out in less than two minutes. Three of the four probably would have perished in the fire, because they fumbled and made mistakes in their escape.

If you're trapped and can't find an exit, experts say you need to get to an office away from the fire. Close the door, block the smoke with paper or cushions or whatever you can find inside the office, then call 911 and tell them where you are.

For more practical tips, from SafePlace, click here.


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