Skip to main content

What to do if a fire breaks out in your home

Whether the fire has been discovered by you or your smoke alarm, stay calm and put your Home Fire Action Plan into action.

  • Raise the alarm.
  • Shout to wake everyone up, get everyone together, and make your way out by the quickest route. This should be by the front door.
  • Do not investigate the fire.
  • Do not open any doors other than ones which you need to escape through. Check doors with the back of your hand; if they are warm it means the fire is on the other side, so do not open them.
  • If there is smoke, crawl along with your nose near to the floor where the air will be cleaner.

Once everyone is out of the house call the Fire Service from a call box or neighbour's house. Do not go back in until the Fire Service tell you it is safe.

Making a 999 call

When you dial 999 the first person you will hear is the Emergency Telephone Operator, who will ask you which service you need.

If you ask for the Fire Service you will be connected to the Fire Service Control Operator and you will hear the telephone number you are calling from being repeated.

The Fire Service Control Operator will want to know a number of things:

  • The name and number of the house or building if relevant.
  • The road or street name.
  • The town or village name.
  • The nature of the incident: fire; road traffic collision, etc.
  • If the incident is in the open you may be asked for other information such as landmarks.

Do not panic; the operators are highly trained and will guide you calmly through the process.

If your normal escape route is blocked

If the fire is blocking your way out to the front door you will have to use your planned alternative route.

  • Your alternative should take account of the need to escape, so rooms which open onto a flat roof or porch will be safest.
  • Avoid rooms above a conservatory or greenhouse as the glass will make escape or rescue dangerous.
  • Once in the room, close the door and block any gaps with towels, blankets, clothes etc.
  • Make sure the window can be opened and the keys are available if locked.
  • If there is a phone, call the Fire Service on 999.
  • If there is no phone, go to the window and shout for help. Once you have been heard stay near the window to help us rescue you as quickly as possible.

You may have to make the decision to escape through the window instead of waiting for the Fire Service.

  • Plan the order of escape to take into account the extra help needed by children, elderly or people with disabilities.
  • Always pass the children down first. Never leave them until last.
  • If you can, throw out something soft to land on, such as bedding.
  • Do not jump. Lower yourself to arm's length and then drop.
  • When everyone is out, stay out and call the Fire Service.

If you have to break a window:

You may find yourself in a room with a locked window and no key, or one with sealed double glazing and no opening window at all. This is a situation that you should try to avoid when making your plan in the first place.

  • Cover the broken glass with thick bedding or towels to avoid cuts.
  • Double glazed windows can be broken by hitting them in a bottom corner with a heavy sharp object. If this is the only remaining option for an alternative escape route in your home, you should consider keeping a hammer, or similar tool, with a pointed impact face, handy for such an emergency.

When it is safer to stay in your home

  • If your escape route is blocked, it may be safer to stay put and protect yourself until the Fire Service arrives.
  • Find a suitable room now. Choose one with a window that you can get out of and, if possible, one with a phone so that you can dial 999. If you have a mobile phone take it to bed with you.
  • If you live in a block of flats and can't get out by the normal route, don't use the lift. Stay calm and go back inside your flat - it is designed to keep fire out. Close your front door, call the Fire Service and wait to be rescued.

High rise buildings

Additional guidance for high rise buildings is available in the attached leaflet.

Files available to download