SIMULATION: The safest way to escape a house fire

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Despite the devastation at a Columbus apartment complex on Sunday, many are thankful that no one died in the Woodcliff Apartment fire.

On Monday, we dove into how you can increase your chances of surviving a fire should your fire alarm fail you, or you wake up to a fire that's already spread.

"Really, you need to look at it, in a matter of seconds, not minutes," said Columbus Fire Marshal Ricky Shores.

When smoke alarms aren't present, or malfunction, experts say escaping a fiery building can present challenges, and time is of the essence.

"Typically you have less than two minutes to get out of a fire, and a home, depending on the nature of the fire, what's burning, and if it's in your escape route," said Shores.

WTVM producer Jay McSlarrow was able to crawl to an exit in our newsroom in 13 seconds, which is way under the two-minute mark.

"If you can't see your feet, you don't need to be on them," said Shores.

For limited visibility caused by a smokey room, we blindfolded McSlarrow. The crew turned him around to make him dizzy, simulating the disorienting effects smoke and limited oxygen. The results were much different.

"A lot to think about when your senses are basically overwhelmed like that," said McSlarrow.

It took McSlarrow more than two minutes to crawl the length of the room. That's seven critical seconds more than the average survival time to escape.

"I didn't think I was going to find it at all," McSlarrow said.

Experts also say it's important to feel doors with the back of your hand before opening them. If they are cool, open them slowly. If you are trapped, officials say you can use any available clothes to block smoke from seeping under the door, while calling 911.

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