Making a fire escape plan takes minutes, but in the event of a fire you will be able to react instantly, and correctly.
There’s no time to stop and think and wonder what’s the best thing to do. The situation can change in seconds. Half a minute after the smoke alarm goes off, an entire floor of your house could be filled with dense smoke.
High rise escape
High-rise buildings are designed to prevent fires spreading through the building with measures like fire-resisting walls, ceilings and doors. Most fires don’t spread further than one or two rooms. If there’s a fire elsewhere in the building you’re usually safest in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you.
Planning takes minutes and saves lives
Include everyone who lives in your home, especially children, older people and lodgers. Talk through your escape plan, including what to do and what not to do in a fire.
Choose an escape route
The best escape route is your normal way in and out of your home. Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, for example in the middle of the night. Choose a second escape route, in case the first one is blocked. Keep both escape routes clear of obstructions. If there are older people or children in the household, plan the order you’d escape in, so that if you have to go out of a window you can help them down.
Make sure everyone knows where you keep keys
Decide where the keys to doors and windows should be kept, and always keep them there. Everyone in your household should know the location. Keys should be located next to the doors and windows, avoiding any unnecessary security risk.
Practice the plan
Take a few minutes to “walk through” the plan with everyone in the household. Regularly remind everyone of what to do and what not to do in a fire.
A complete plan
A full fire safety plan covers more than just what to do if the worst happens. It covers prevention and detection too.
If there’s a fire
You need to act instantly, swiftly and calmly once you become aware of a fire.
Make sure everyone in your home knows about the fire. Shout. Get everyone together.
As you go out, only open the doors you need to. Close any open doors. Before you open a door check it with the back of your hand. If it’s warm, don’t open it – the fire is on the other side.
Get everyone out
Use your escape route. Stay together if you can.
Crawl on the floor if there’s smoke
The air is cleaner near the floor so if there’s smoke put your nose as low as possible. Remember, smoke is poisonous and can kill you.
Once you’ve escaped, use a mobile or a neighbour’s phone. 999 calls are free.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Give the whole address of the incident.
- Say what is on fire (eg, a two-storey house).
- Explain if any one is trapped and what room they are in.
Don’t go back in
Don’t go back in for anything.
If your escape route is blocked
When the fire is between you and your escape route, you have to react in a different way.
Get out of a window
You may be able to escape through a window if you are on the ground or the first floor. If you’re on the first floor you should only do this as a last resort – when you are in immediate danger.
Cushion your fall
Throw bedding, cushions, etc, onto the ground to break your fall.
Lower yourself by your arms from the window ledge before dropping.
If there are two adults, one should go down first to catch children. The other should lie down and lower children as far as possible before letting them drop.
If you have to break the window
Use a heavy object to hit the glass at the bottom corner. Make the jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.
Find a safe place to wait
When your escape route is blocked and you can’t use a window, you need to keep safe in the building, this should be a room with a window and ideally a phone.
Get everyone into one room
Choose a room with a window and a telephone if possible. Close the door.
Block the door
Put cushions, bedding, etc, around the bottom of the door to block smoke.
Open the window and call for help
It’s important to let people know you are there, and if you haven’t managed to call 999 you need to raise the alarm.
Stay by the window
Lean out of the window to breathe if you need to. Keep drawing attention to yourself.