Fitting a smoke alarm is the first crucial step to protecting yourself from fire, but what would you do if it went off during the night?

A well-practised escape route plan could help save a life if you have a fire. Inhaling toxic smoke could leave you unconscious, so every second counts. Think ahead, be prepared and keep your exits clear.

Your Fire Escape Route Plan

When you make an escape route plan, make sure you involve everyone who lives in your home. If you’ve got people staying the night, be sure to share the plan – especially if people are drinking alcohol.

  • Draw up an escape plan so that everyone in the house knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off during the night
  • Establish your route out of the house
  • Include alternative routes in case the way is blocked
  • Make sure that everyone knows where to gather once they are out of the house

Your escape route:

  • The best escape route is your usual way in and out
  • Choose a second escape route, in case the first is blocked
  • Think about where you could take refuge if you can’t escape – especially if you have difficulty moving around or going downstairs on your own
  • Keep your escape route clear at all times
  • Make sure everyone knows where the door and window keys are kept
  • Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, e.g. keep a torch handy

If you can’t escape, you’ll need to find a room to take refuge in:

  • Move everyone to the safest room, ideally as far away as possible from the fire itself
  • call 999
  • Keep the door closed and put bedding or clothing at the bottom of the door to block smoke
  • Don’t break a window, but open one if you can do it safely. If smoke comes in, close it straight away
  • Balconies – check for fire and smoke from below, or falling debris from above, before using a balcony during a fire. If you live in a flat, you should follow your landlord’s escape plan.

Important: teach your children to Get Out, Stay Out and Call 999 and NEVER hide from fire!

Make sure you have a Plan B

If your route is blocked or if you have any mobility issues you may need to:

  • Stay in a room (safe room) with a shut door, window and phone – ideally at the front of the house.
  • Put bedding round the bottom of the door to block out the smoke, then open the window and shout “HELP FIRE”. Keep a whistle handy if it’s hard to shout.

Remember…  If you can, close inside doors at night as this will help prevent a fire from spreading. If you have a disability and need advice on planning your escape route and information on specialist smoke alarms and equipment, click here. For advice on how to escape from a high-rise building, click here.