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Escape Plan

Making an Escape Plan

Would you know what to do if your smoke alarm went off in the middle of the night? Would you and your family be able to escape?

It can be difficult to think clearly in an emergency. The situation may quickly change and an entire floor of your house could be filled with dense toxic smoke just seconds after the smoke alarm goes off. It may be dark as well, making it even more difficult to find a way out.

Even if you already know what to do, you need to talk about it to everyone who lives in or visits your home. Making an escape plan in advance and practising it regularly can save lives.


1. Making the plan

  • Include everyone who lives in your house; thinking especially of children, older people and lodgers
  • Consider your regular visitors and their needs
  • Talk through your escape plan, including what to do and what not to do in a fire


2. Choose an escape route

  • The best escape route is your usual way in and out of your house
  • If possible, choose a second route in case the first one is blocked
  • Keep both routes clear of obstructions


3. Make sure that everyone knows where you keep the keys

  • Always keep door and window keys in the same place
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows where they are


4. Make sure everyone knows what to do

  • Take a few minutes to “walk through” the plan with everyone in the household
  • Regularly remind everyone about what to do in the event of a fire
  • Keep a copy of your address by the phone, so children or visitors can read it out to the emergency services
  • Put a reminder of your escape plan somewhere prominent, like the door of the fridge


5. What to do if your escape is blocked

  • If you can’t escape, you will need to find a room to take refuge in
  • This is particularly important if you have difficulty moving around or going downstairs on your own
  • Try to find a room that has a window and a phone
  • Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block smoke


6. How to escape from a high-level building 

  • As with all buildings, you should plan and practice an escape route.  Our advice to people who live in high-rise properties or purpose built flats or maisonettes, apart from having a smoke alarm and taking fire safety precautions, is to make sure you know your escape route and what to do if there is a fire inside your home or somewhere else in the building. 
  • If there is a fire inside your flat or maisonette – alert all the people in your flat and leave, closing your doors behind you. Follow your escape plan and if there is a lot of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air should be clearer. Always use the stairs rather than the lift and call 999 as soon as you are in a safe place.
  • If there is a fire elsewhere in the building – the structure of your flat (walls, floors, doors) are designed to give you a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes’ protection from a fire. If there is a fire in your building but not inside your own home, you are usually safer to stay in your flat unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you. If you stay put you should still immediately call 999.