Plan how you would escape if there was a fire in your home

Tue 1 May, 2018

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service is backing a national campaign urging people to make sure everyone knows how to escape from a fire in their home.

Although working smoke alarms can give occupants enough time, blocked exits, locked doors or unfamiliar surroundings can delay them by vital seconds.

Joanne Cook, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “Just two to three breaths of toxic smoke could leave you unconscious, so every second counts when escaping a fire.

"Working smoke alarms, and knowing the escape plan in an emergency, could make all the difference.

Joanne is also reminding people of the vital importance of making sure the plan works for people who are less able to help themselves.

She added: “If you have dependants or someone with limited mobility to care for, it could take more time to escape. Make sure you’re always prepared, your exits are clear and everyone knows what to do if the worst should happen."

Top tips

  • Fit at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home so any smoke can reach the alarms quicker, giving you more warning time.

  • Test your smoke alarms every month. They can save your life, but only if they work.

  • Prepare and practise an escape plan to help you act quickly if there’s a fire in your home.

  • Keep your home tidy and escape routes clear so you’re able to get out quickly without tripping over anything.

  • Make sure everyone - including guests, babysitters and childminders - knows where the door and window keys are kept so that they can reach them easily in the event of a fire.

If you have a dependant to think about

  • Make sure you’ve planned an escape route and think of any difficulties people may have getting out and help they may need, such as a torch to light their way, or a stair rail.

  • Consider the best place to go if the worst happens and someone can’t escape, especially if they have trouble moving around or can’t get downstairs on their own.

  • Nominate someone in your home (perhaps a child) to be the ‘escape champ’. Regularly role-play escape routes and give children the responsibility to keep escape routes clear.

Additional advice for people living in high-rise buildings

  • Purpose-built flats are designed to be fire-resisting. That said, if in doubt, get out.

  • Always leave if your flat is affected by smoke or heat or if told to do so by firefighters.

  • Your stairway is designed to be safe for escape throughout the course of a fire. Always use the stairway to descend to ground level if escaping.

  • Don't use lifts and balconies 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, such as boxes or rubbish, that could catch fire.

  • Make sure doors to stairways are not locked.

  • Make sure everyone knows where the fire alarms are.

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