Preparing and practicing an escape plan 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.
Remember if you have dependants or someone less mobile in your family, it could take more time to get out. Make sure you’re always prepared, your exits are clear and everyone knows what to do if the worst should happen. Don’t forget blocked exits, locked doors or unfamiliar surroundings can shave vital seconds from your escape time.
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 a torch to light your way;
- Choose an alternative escape route, in case the first one is blocked;
- Always keep exits from your home clear of obstructions, like bicycles;
- If your household has children, older or disabled people or pets in it, plan how you will get them out;
- Decide where the keys to doors and windows should be kept and always keep them there. Make sure everyone in your household knows where they are;
- Think about a safe place to go if you can’t escape.
While your first priority should be to get everyone out of the building sometimes you might not be able to escape. If you can’t get out 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.
Think about which room might be best for this – you need a window that can be opened so you can call for help and, if possible, a phone for calling 999. If you can make sure the room has cushions, towels or bedding you can put at the bottom of the door to block smoke and fumes from getting in.
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. Put your address by the phone so that children can read it out to the emergency services. 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.
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.
So stay safe by thinking ahead and plan your escape routes now.