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Escape routes IMG 1452

Fitting smoke alarms is the first crucial step to protecting yourself and those you love from a fire. But what would you do if it went off?

Plan a safe escape

• Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to get out

• Make sure exits are kept clear

• The best route is the normal way in and out of your home

• Plan a second route in case the first one is blocked

• Take a few minutes to practice your escape plan

• Review your plan if the layout of your home changes

• Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them

What to do if there is a fire

• Don’t tackle fires yourself. Leave it to the professionals

• Keep calm and act quickly. Get everyone out as soon as possible

• Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables

• If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer

• Before you open a door, check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side

• Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building

What to do if your escape is blocked

• If you can’t get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone

• Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke, then open the window and call “HELP! FIRE!”

• If you’re on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window

• Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don’t jump

• If you can’t open the window, break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket

How to escape from a high-rise building

• Blocks of flats are normally built in a way to prevent fires spreading from one flat to another, or to the communal areas. Therefore, if there is a fire in another part of your block it is usually best to stay in your flat. This is known as 'stay put'.

• Ask your landlord what evacuation strategy applies to your block so you know what to do should a fire occur in someone else’s flat – it may be that you should stay put, or that you should evacuate the building.

• Leaving the flat when you're not affected by smoke or the fire can place you in greater danger and can hamper the fire and rescue service response.

• The fire and rescue service may trigger a full evacuation, in which case you'll need to get out and stay out.

• If you feel unsafe or your flat is affected by heat or smoke, then get out, stay out and call 999.

• If your escape route is blocked or full of smoke or fire, return to your flat and call 999 so firefighters know where you are and can give you help over the phone.

• Make sure you know the escape plan for your building.

• Avoid using lifts if there is a fire.

• It is easy to get confused in smoke, so count how many doors you need to go through to reach the stairs.

• Check there is nothing in the corridors or stairways that could catch fire – like boxes or rubbish.

• Make sure doors to stairways are not locked.

• Make sure everyone knows where the fire alarms are.

• You should still get smoke alarms for your own flat even if there is a warning system in the block.


• It is important that children are never left home alone

• Recent research has indicated that some children may not always wake to the sound of a smoke alarm. It is important that escape plans include waking and helping children and vulnerable persons to evacuate

• Families should have a fire escape plan that is rehearsed, so that everyone knows how to escape when fire occurs.

• The fire and rescue service should always be called without delay, no matter how small the fire