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Residents of high-rise buildings and apartments need unique plans and strategies in the case of emergencies. Learn how to be prepared.

During an emergency, residents who live in high-rise buildings may be required to evacuate, shelter in place, or experience power outages. There are steps you can take to help protect yourself, your loved ones and property in the event of an emergency.

How can I prepare for an emergency in my building?

  • Test the fire alarm in your apartment every six months. Ask your property manager for a copy of its instructions.
  • Make an emergency kit to keep everyone living in your apartment healthy for 72 hours.
  • Ask your property manager for a copy of the building’s Fire Safety Plan. Share it with everyone living in your apartment.

High-rise residents with a permanent or temporary disability such as physical, developmental, communication, hearing, visual impairment, may need extra help in an emergency.

  • Ask your property manager to add your name on your building’s Fire Safety Plan’s Persons Requiring Assistance List.
  • Wear a MedicAlert® bracelet or identification to provide details about your needs.
  • If you rely on any life-sustaining equipment/apparatus, develop a back-up plan that will ensure the equipment/apparatus will continue to work in the event of an emergency.

Property managers are responsible for ensuring high-rise buildings are safe and residents are responsible for being aware of safety protocols in their building.

Property managers should follow these recommendations to prepare for an emergency in their building:

  • Train superintendents and on-site security on how to start emergency generators.
  • Maintain building’s safety systems as required by the Ontario Fire Code.
  • Maintain records of all drills and resident’s communications with building staff.
  • Maintain a Persons Requiring Assistance List.


  • Test and run emergency generators.

Every 3 months

  • Perform emergency drills with building staff.

Every 12 months

  • Review your building’s Fire Safety Plan.
  • Inform residents about what to do during emergencies.
  • Review and update the “Persons Requiring Assistance List”.
emergency preparation checklist and supplies

What do I do if there is an emergency in my building?

  • Call 911 for emergencies.
  • If your building has a superintendent or security guard on site, call them so they can meet first responders (police, fire, ambulance) and bring them to you.
    • Without leaving the patient alone, send someone down to the front doors to let first responders in.
  • For high-rise building property managers:
    • Staff should ensure that an elevator is ready at ground level when first responders arrive.
    • Staff should also be able to help first responders reach the residents who need them.
  • Check local media and monitor social media for updates on emergencies.
  • Visit your local police and municipality’s websites:

Know when to stay inside or evacuate

During an emergency, you may be asked to stay inside (shelter-in-place) or evacuate. In the event of an emergency, officials will advise you on whether you should stay inside or leave.

  • Shelter-in-place involves staying in your apartment instead of leaving to find safety. This may happen if there is hazardous material in the air or a toxic substance nearby.
  • If the air is unsafe, building staff will close air vents leading into the building. They will also give you instructions using the building’s communications system, if available.
  • Evacuation means leaving the building or the area during an emergency. You may receive a notice to evacuate through:
    • your building’s communications system;
    • loud speaker (if first responders are driving through your neighbourhood);
    • your landline phone; and/or
    • the Alert Ready system (which sends messages to televisions, radios and mobile devices).
  • Your building’s Fire Safety Plan tells you what to do if there is a fire or evacuation. It also describes how to shelter-in-place. Read the plan to learn how you can stay safe and help first responders during an emergency.
property manager testing fire evacuation plan hallway in apartment building with exit sign