Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service is highlighting the importance of making a home escape plan so everyone knows what to do if a fire breaks out.
Along with at least one working smoke alarm on every level, having an escape plan and regularly practising it is vital for keeping the whole family safe.
When making a plan your main exit route will be your usual way in and out, but you need a Plan B in case access is blocked, and everyone should know where door and window keys are kept.
Plan with the whole household
Community safety officer Jo Gouldson says: “Smoke alarms are life-savers, giving you early warning of a fire, but it’s also really important that everyone knows what to do if they go off.
“Sit down with your whole household, including children, and discuss how you’ll get straight out – children need to know they should never hide from fire. Agree a meeting place outside too.
“Practise your plan when testing your smoke alarms each month, and always keep escape routes clear. Whenever you have guests, tell them your plan too.”
Have a safe room in mind
As part of your planning, think about where you could take refuge if you can’t escape.
Jo adds: “If you can’t get outside, take a phone with you to call 999 and move to a safe room.
“This should be away from the fire and ideally at the front of your home, with a window you can open for fresh air and to raise the alarm – shout ‘help, fire’.
“Close the door and block any gaps around it with bedding or clothes – they don’t need to be wet.”
If a fire starts in your home:
- Don’t try to fight the flames, smoke can overwhelm you in seconds
- If there’s smoke, stay low as you follow your escape route
- Check doors with the back of your hand before you open them – if it’s warm, don’t open it and find another route out
- Close internal doors as you leave, to reduce smoke and limit the spread of fire
- If you can’t get out, go to a safe room, shut the door and call for help
- Once outside, gather at your meeting place and call 999
- Don’t go back inside for anything, not even your pets. The fire service will tell you when it’s safe to return
If your escape route is blocked:
- If you can't get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone so you can call 999
- Put bedding or clothes 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
If you live in a high-rise building:
Read our high-rise fire safety leaflet:
Find out more about high-rise fire safety
Remember: get out, stay out and call 999.