It is vital that you have a fire escape plan in place so that everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire. As the best course of action will change according to your location, the type of building and the extent and whereabouts of fire, it is important that everyone knows what to do in different situations. It is therefore recommended to plan and practise multiple escape routes, and follow a defined course of action should you find a fire in your home.
Recommended steps to take in the event of a fire at home:
- Stay Calm
- Alert everyone inside the house
- Using pre-planned escape route, get everyone out as quickly as possible. Do not delay by gathering possessions. You need to act quickly.
- Try to keep windows and doors closed when evacuating (only open them to escape) - if possible close the door to the room where the fire is located and close all doors behind you - this will delay the spread of fire
- Never use a lift
- If there is a lot of smoke stay close to the floor - smoke rises so the lower air is cleaner and easier to breathe
- If you are unsure as to the whereabouts of the fire, make sure you check doorknobs with the back of your hand before opening it (the fire could potentially be on the other side).
- Calling 999
- Once you are outside and safe, call 999
- Give your full address, details of where you are
- Details of the building on fire
- Details of anyone still inside and there whereabouts (if known)
- Don’t go back into the building. Wait for the FRS to arrive. By going back into the building you may hinder the FRS efforts to put out the flames, and put your life at risk.
If you’re clothes catch fire:
“Stop drop and roll”, with steps as follows:
- Don’t run
- Lie down and smother the flames with a heavy material, like a coat or fire blanket (this blocks the source of oxygen)
- Roll around to smother the flames
Image from Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
What to do if you are unable to get out of the building*
- If you’re escape route is blocked, keep doors and windows closed and get everyone to the safest room with a window, closing all doors behind you
- If you're on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through the window. Use soft materials to cushion your fall and always lower yourself down slowly and carefully feet first, then lower yourself until your arms are fully extended before dropping.
- If you can’t get out in this way, call for the FRS via a mobile/call for help through the window (if there is one) and use towels and bedding to block smoke coming in through the bottom and sides of the door.
- If there is a lot of smoke, make sure you stay close to the ground and keep a wet cloth over your mouth
If there is a fire in your home, it is vital to alert all residents and immediately leave the building via the closest escape route. Fire can spread incredibly fast, so it is never advisable to attempt to tackle a fire yourself.
It is also important to note that, even if you can’t see the fire yourself, fire alarms sounding should be taken as a serious indicator of fire.
If you wish to find out more about what to do in the event of fire in your home specifically, it is recommended you speak to the responsible person (e.g. your landlord), or you can contact your local fire and rescue service. FRS provide ‘Safe and Well Visits’ or ‘Home Fire Safety Visits’, which provide practical advice about fire prevention in the home.
Alternatively, for more information on fire safety in the home - with a focus on fire prevention in the kitchen - you can download our free guide, suitable for use by both residents and housing providers.