Make good your escape
We spend a lot of time and effort making sure people can’t get into our homes but often do we give any thought to how we would get out in an emergency?
In the event of a fire seconds count and this is why fire and rescue services and Fire Kills are asking people to take some time this spring to think about an escape plan for the home.
Installing a smoke alarm is only the first step in protecting you and your family. Make sure you install alarms that are suitable for your needs, correctly sited and working. CFOA suggest you test your alarms once a week. It’s a simple message but worth re-iterating. Fire statistics for 2013-2014 show in about 30% of dwelling fires there was no alarm and in 19% of fires there was an alarms but it did not operate. This is usually because of dead or missing batteries and in some cases the smoke never reached the smoke alarm – suggesting not enough were installed or installed in the correct places
It’s not enough just to install the alarms. An escape plan is of little use if you aren’t aware there is a problem. For more advice about alarms please see CFOA’s earlier blog or contact your local fire and rescue service who may be able to carry out a ‘Safe and Well’ visit which can also include helping you devise an escape plan.
Of course you won’t necessarily know where, when or even if a fire will break out in your home but it is worth considering the various escape routes available to you.
- The normal route in and out of the home is usually the best route but your plan should assume this route is not available
- Make sure that all exits from the house are clear of clutter
- Keep stairways clear
- Keys for windows and doors should be easily found and accessible to everyone in the home
- Double check your windows – particularly if you are in a modern house or have replacement windows the upstairs ones should open wide to help you escape – avoid locking these
- Make sure everyone in the house knows the plan – this includes children and guests
- Try to make sure you have phones on all floors of your home or take your mobile upstairs at night
- Close internal doors at night – they will reduce the spread of fire and smoke
What to do if you can’t get out
- Try and get everyone into one room. Ideally with a window and phone
- Try and stop smoke from entering the room by blocking the bottom of the door- use anything to hand, cushions, bedding, rugs – rip the curtains down if you have to
- Open the window and call for help – shout “Help Fire”
- If you cannot open the window you need to smash it. Hit it hard with an object in the bottom corner and protect yourself from jagged edges by putting something like a blanket or rug over them
- If you are on the ground floor or first floor you may be able to get out of the window. Make sure you try and cushion the ground with bedding or cushions
- Never jump out but lower yourself down
High Rise Flats
High rise flats are built to give some protection from fire. Unless smoke or fire is directly affecting you it is best to stay put unless instructed otherwise by a fire fighter.
- Make sure communal areas are not cluttered or used to store items. Not only are they a trip hazard when escaping they can be fuel for the fire
- Make sure doors in communal areas are not propped open
- Report any damage to doors to stairways
- Make sure doors leading to exits and stairwells are not locked or blocked
- Never use the lift as an escape route
Once you have made an appropriate escape plan for your household make sure you practise it so everyone know what they should do in en emergency.