What to do if a fire breaks out in your home

What to do if there is 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

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
  • on the floor, put your nose as low as possible - remember, smoke is toxic 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
  • feel doors with the back of your hand before you open them, 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
  • lying down 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 supply of oxygen
  • roll around - rolling smothers the flames

If you are trapped by fire

The common time for families to be caught in a fire situation is during the night. A good night time routine may help keep any escape route clear and a smoke alarm will give you an early warning of fire. However, if you are trapped by fire consider the following advice.

  • Get everyone into one room and close the door
  • Smoke and fumes can kill people quickly, so put bedding or towels along the bottom of the door to seal the gap
  • Open the window and stay near it for fresh air and let the Firefighters see you
  • Shout for help so neighbours can offer you assistance and call for the Fire Brigade
  • If you are on a ground or first floor, you may be able to escape from a window
  • If you have to break the window, cover the jagged glass with towels or thick bedding
  • Throw some more bedding out of the window to break your fall
  • Don't jump out of the window - lower yourself down to arm's length and drop to the ground
  • If you have any children or elderly or disabled people with you, plan the order you will escape in so that you can help them down
  • Don't stop or go back in for any reason

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

  • 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 firefighters know you're there
  • if the fire is directly outside your flat, seal your front door with tape, bedding or clothes, close any ventilators and phone 999
  • if your front door becomes hot, wet it down

Call 999

Once you're out and safe, try and find a phone to call the emergency services - 999 calls are free.

When you speak to the operator:

  • give your whole address, including the town
  • tell them what is on fire, eg 'a two-storey house'
  • explain if anyone is trapped and what room they're in - give as much information as you can so 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 firefighters' efforts to rescue anyone else missing - and put your own life in danger.