How to survive a fire

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 October, 2011, 12:00am


Dinner is over. Now it's time to wind down and catch up on all those episodes of Gossip Girl. You pop Season 4 into the DVD player, reach for the remote and settle down on your favourite couch. Oh, the wonders of technology: 22glorious episodes, all in the palm of your hand.

Then it happens. At first it's only slightly noticeable. Something smells odd. You take a big whiff: it smells like something is burning. But it's coming from somewhere else. It must be your neighbour's overcooked roast. It's hard to tell.

Soon, there's no denying it now: there's a fire in the building.

What to do

Remain calm and act quickly. Get out.

Most people caught in fires die not from the flames but from breathing in too much smoke. Don't bother to call 999. Get out.

Whenever you notice a fire, it's your obligation to sound the alarm. Shout, scream and call for help - and get out!

On your way out, don't just blindly open doors: the fire could be on the other side. Before you open any door, place your hand on it to see if it is hot.

Watch for smoke coming under doors. If a door is hot to the touch, or you see smoke, try to find another exit. Don't just grab the door knob, it could burn your hand; touch it lightly with your fingers first.

Choose the quickest route out of the building using the stairs. Don't use the elevator in case you get stuck in it.

Try to remain calm and leave in an orderly fashion. If a staircase is filled with smoke, look for one that has no smoke. If you can't find one then as a last resort you should return to your flat or look for a safe place to use as shelter.

Once outside, call 999.

If you do get stuck inside, make sure to protect yourself from smoke. Seal cracks around doors and air ducts with wet towels or clothing. Grab a wet cloth and use it like a mask to stop yourself breathing in smoke. Open the window and draw attention to yourself by waving to people or hanging sheets by the window.

Call 999 again to let them know which flat you are in. Never hide in a cupboard or under a bed. Help is on the way and firefighters need to find you quickly.

If you are ever unable to see because of dense smoke or darkness, move forward slowly until you find a wall. Keep your hand on the wall and choose to go either left or right. Do not backtrack. That way you will always find a door.

Ideally, you should know your way out of buildings like your home and school. Make a plan with your family about what to do in if there is a fire. Pay attention to fire drills.

If you're trapped in a burning room, go down to floor level where it is easier to breathe. If your clothes catch fire, don't panic. Stop, drop and roll. Cover your face with your hands and roll on the floor.

Fire safety tips

1 Sound the alarm

2 Get out

3 Check doors before opening

4 Take stairs, not the elevator

5 If there is no way out, return to your flat and phone for help

6 If you are indoors, seal doors and air vents with wet towels or clothes

7 Do not hide

8 Make yourself noticeable

9 If you make it outside, call 999

10 Never go back to rescue anything or anyone

11 If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop and roll around


Never pour water on an electrical fire: you could be electrocuted