Escape plan for flats.

If you live in a purpose-built flat, bedsit or maisonette, your escape plan isn't the same as a house. Here's what you need to know about stay put...

Making an escape plan with options

Live in a flat? It's often safer to stay put...

When you live in a purpose-built flat or maisonette, knowing what to do in an emergency is really important. You'll need to consider two kinds of fire: 

  • In your home. 
  • Somewhere else in the building. 

If the fire isn't in your own flat and your flat is not affected by smoke from a fire elsewhere in the building, it's often safer to stay put. On this page, we cover how to make your own escape plan, alongside what to do if there is a fire.

Stay put advice

Useful downloads...

Fire safety in the home booklet

Download PDF (3,662kb)

Short fire safety leaflet

Download PDF (2,410kb)

Home Fire Safety Guide for purpose-built flats and maisonettes

Download PDF (350kb)

Escaping a fire in your flat

Our guidance is to stay put unless your flat is being affected by fire or smoke. This is based on the fire protection provided in the building and the walls and doors of each flat. This has been the case for many decades and – although fires in flats happen every day – they rarely spread beyond the flat on fire. However, some smoke may enter corridors when the residents leave the flat on fire, or firefighters enter the flat to extinguish the fire.

When you stay put, you reduce the risk of entering a smoky corridor unnecessarily and potentially being overcome by smoke. Staying put also means firefighters can tackle the fire safely and quickly without being delayed by many residents evacuating down the stairways.

Get out advice

Fire outside your flat but within your block or building?

Purpose-built maisonettes or blocks of flats are built to give you some protection from fire. This means that walls, floors and doors can hold back flames and smoke for 30 to 60 minutes. 

  • You are usually safer staying put and calling 999. 
  • Tell the fire brigade where you are and the best way to reach you. 

Fire inside your flat?

If there's a fire inside your flat, your escape plan is relatively simple:

  • Take the normal way out – though don't use the lift.
  • Keep door keys where everyone you live with can find them easily.
  • Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables – remember, get out, stay out and close the door behind you.
  • Move as quickly but as safely as you can as you exit the building.
  • Close doors behind you to slow down the spread of fire and smoke.
  • Call 999 as soon as you are safe to do so.

Fire or smoke inside your home but your escape route is not clear?

If you can't use your planned escape route safely, you may be safer to stay in your flat or maisonette until the fire brigade arrives.

  • Find a safe room as far as possible within the flat from any fire or smoke (with a window if possible), close the door and use soft materials to block any gaps to stop the smoke.
  • Go to a window, shout ‘HELP, FIRE’ and call 999.
  • Be ready to describe where you are and the quickest way for firefighters to reach you.
  • Try and stay on the line and act on the advice provided.

What about escape plans for vulnerable people?

If you – or anyone you live with – might find it difficult to escape in an emergency, why not contact us and book a free fire safety visit for expert advice tailored to you.

Our firefighters will visit you at home, help plan your escape route, and give advice about sprinkler systems and special fire detection options.

Firefighter’s tips for safe escapes

  1. Make sure everyone in your home knows – and has practised! – the escape route.
  2. If any of your smoke alarms go off, never assume it is a false alarm.
  3. Shout ‘FIRE’ to alert other people in your home and block.
  4. Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables – remember, get out, stay out, shut the door behind you and call 999.
  5. Don’t try and tackle fires yourself – leave it to the professionals.
  6. Try and keep calm, and remember that sometimes it's safer to stay put.
  7. Before you open a door check if it’s warm with the back of your hand. If it is, don’t open it – there may be a fire on the other side.
  8. If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is clearer.
  9. Help others who may be in difficulty on their way out.
  10. Call 999 as soon as you are safe to do so.
  11. Never go back into the building once you are safely outside.
Person using the Home Fire Safety Checker on their smartphone.

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