If you and your family get caught up in a fire in your home, you must get out immediately. The best way to do this is to implement a pre-arranged escape strategy.
Draw up a plan of your home and mark out escape routes from everywhere in the house. Make sure you determine at least two escape routes from each bedroom (usually window and door). Be clear about where everyone is to meet once they’re out of the house (i.e. a neighbour’s house, a road sign, a tree etc). Ensure you and your family practice your escape plan and carry out a fire safety risk assessment regularly.
You must impress on your children the importance of not hiding away in a wardrobe or under their bed if a fire breaks out. If they are hiding, it will be much harder for you or a fire fighter to find them when searching the house. You must also explain to them that even though a fire fighter may look a little bit scary in his breathing apparatus, they should run towards him rather than stay away from him. Reassure children that it is quite okay to break a window if there is a fire.
If there is a fire in your home, stay calm and respond in the following manner:
If you are asleep and get woken by a smoke or heat alarm, get out of bed and crawl to your bedroom door along the floor. It is cooler and easier to breathe at floor level. Gently touch your bedroom door. If it feels warm to the touch, don’t open it. If the door feels normal, open it, but do so very slowly as there may still be intense heat on the other side. If the landing is full of smoke or if you can see fire, close the door and use your secondary escape route to get out.
When leaving your property, stay low and close doors behind you. Closed doors will help slow the spread of the fire. Once you are out of the building, go to the designated meeting spot and make sure everybody is accounted for. Phone your local fire and rescue service from a neighbour’s house. No one should go back inside the property until the fire service says it is safe to do so.
If you can’t get out of the house because of heat or smoke and you’re stuck in an upstairs bedroom, cover any cracks under the door to prevent smoke from entering and then open a window to call for help. Do not try and exit the window unless you have a valid means of escape or unless you have no other choice.
Having an effective, simple to follow fire escape strategy can not only save the lives of you and your family, it can also provide you with great peace of mind.
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