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Escape exit sign

Preparing and practising a plan of action will help you act quickly if there’s a fire in your home – it could even save your life. When you make an escape plan, involve everyone who lives in your home, including children, older or disabled people and any lodgers.

Choosing an escape route

Here are some tips to help you plan your escape from fire:

  • The best escape route is often the normal way in and out of your home
  • Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, for example, at night you may need to have a torch to light your way
  • Choose a second escape route, in case the first one is blocked
  • Keep all exits clear of obstructions, like bicycles
  • Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them
  • If there are children, older or disabled people or pets, plan how you will get them out

Think about a safe place to go if you can’t escape

The first priority is to keep people safe by getting them out of the building. If you can’t escape, you’ll need to find a room to take refuge in. This is especially important if you have difficulty moving around or going downstairs on your own.

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 about which room might be best for this – you need a window that can be opened and, if possible, a phone for calling 999

Explain the plan

Once you have made your plan, go through it with everyone in the household. You could also put a reminder of what to do in a fire somewhere where it will be seen regularly, like on the fridge door and put your address by the phone so that children can read it out to the emergency services.

Practice the plan

Make sure you have ‘walked through’ the plan with everyone in your household. Regularly remind everyone of what to do, and what not to do, in the event of a fire. See What to do if there is a fire for more information about escaping from a fire.

Keep your guests safe from fire

Your family or housemates may be familiar with your house or flat, but your guests may not be. If you have guests staying overnight tell them where the keys are kept and give them information about anything in the house they may not be familiar with, like how to unlock your front door. It’s particularly important to provide some fire safety information if you are hosting a party and people are drinking alcohol. Also, the risk of fire during celebrations may be higher due to candles, cooking and cigarettes. Click here for more information about candles, cooking and smoking safely.

Escape from a high-rise building

Living above the first floor doesn’t necessarily make you any more at risk from fire. High-rise flats are built to be fire-proof: walls, ceilings and doors will hold back flames and smoke. Most of your planning should be the same as homes at ground level, but there are some key differences:

  • You won’t be able to use the lift if there is a fire, so choose an escape route that takes this into account
  • Count how many doors there are on the route to get to the stairs when you can’t use the lift, in case you can’t find your way
  • Make sure stairways and fire escapes are kept clear of all obstructions and that fire doors are never locked
  • Regularly check that you can open the doors to stairways or escape routes from both sides

If there is a fire elsewhere in the building, you are usually safest in your own flat, unless heat or smoke is affecting you. If you are affected, you should get out, stay out and call 999.