What to do if there's a fire

If there’s a fire, you need to act quickly. Make sure you are prepared and that everyone in your house knows exactly what to do.

Alert everyone

Make sure everyone in the house knows about the fire – shout and get everyone together.

Get everyone out

You should have an escape route planned that everyone in your house is familiar with. If you don’t have one already, follow the link below for information on how to make an escape plan for your home.

As you escape, remember:

  • don’t delay to save valuables or look for pets
  • don’t investigate the fire
  • crawl on the floor if there’s smoke - the air is cleaner near the floor so put your nose as low as possible; remember, smoke is poisonous and can kill you
  • as you go out, only open the doors you need to and close any open doors you can to slow the spread of the fire
  • before you open doors, feel them with the back of your hand; if they’re warm, don’t open them – the fire is on the other side
  • if you’re escaping with others, stay together if you can

If your clothes catch fire

  • don’t run around – you will fan the flames and make them burn faster
  • lie down - this makes it harder for the fire to spread and reduces the effect of flames on your face and head (flames burn upwards)
  • smother the flames - cover the flames with heavy material, like a coat or blanket; this blocks the fire's source of oxygen
  • roll around – rolling smothers the flames

When you can't get out by your escape route

If your escape route is blocked:

  • and if you’re on the ground floor, go out of a window – throw bedding or cushions onto the ground outside to break your fall
  • and if you can’t open the window, use a heavy object to break it at the bottom corner – cover any jagged edges with clothing, a towel or a blanket
  • lower children as far as possible before letting them drop – get an adult to break their fall if you can
  • lower yourself by your arms from the window ledge before dropping

If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room:

  • choose a room with a window, if you can
  • put cushions, towels or bedding at the bottom of the door to block smoke
  • open the window and call for help
  • think now about which room might be best for this – you need a window that can be opened and, if possible, a phone for calling 999

Call 999

Once you’re out and safe, use a mobile phone, a neighbour’s phone, or a phone box to provide the emergency services with the address. 999 calls are free. When calling:

  • give your whole address, including the town
  • tell them what is on fire, for example, “a two-storey house”
  • explain if anyone is trapped and what room they’re in – the more information you can give the Fire and Rescue Service, the more quickly and effectively they can help you  

Don't go back in

You should find somewhere safe to wait near the building. If there's someone still inside, wait for the Fire and Rescue Service to arrive. You can tell them about the person and they will be able to find them quicker than you. If you go back into the building, you will slow down the fire-fighters' efforts to rescue anyone else missing, as well as putting your own life in great danger.

What to do if you live in a high-rise flat

If you live in a block of flats, you will need to consider that a fire could start directly outside your flat or in the stairwell. Follow the link below to information on planning an escape. It includes specific guidance for plans for high-rises.

If a fire starts in your flat or the stairwell and you can’t get out:

  • get everyone into a room with a window; put cushions, bedding or clothes around the bottom of the door to block smoke
  • open the window - if you feel in serious danger, wave a sheet out of the window so the fire-fighters know you're there
  • if the fire is directly outside your flat, seal your front door with tape if you can, as well as using bedding or clothes, close any ventilators and phone 999, giving the number of your flat  
  • if your front door becomes hot, wet it down
  • if smoke starts to enter your flat, stay down low below the level of smoke and lie on the floor as close to an open window as possible

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