Don’t panic. Here’s what to do

The dangers of a fire go without saying and everybody knows that you need to escape as soon as possible, but not everybody knows that there are some very important things you should avoid doing to keep yourself and others safe in a fire.

1. Breaking windows Most deaths related to fires are caused by smoke inhalation rather than the heat of the fire itself. It can be tempting to break open windows to allow the smoke to billow out of the building, but this is the wrong thing to do. Breaking open windows allows the fire to gain more access to oxygen which helps the fire grow, which would greatly decrease your chances of escape.

2. Opening hot doors Doors that are very hot to the touch or have smoke billowing through the cracks will more than likely have a fire on the other side. This means that the door is holding the fire back and opening it would only allow the fire to spread. If you find a door that you believe to be safe, open it, but always do so cautiously, with the awareness that it could be dangerous on the other side.

3. Returning for your belongings You may think that you have time to grab a few things, but it can take just 5 minutes for a house to become engulfed in flames. Items are replaceable and nothing is worth more than your life, so your priority should always be getting out as quickly as possible.

4. Hiding When you are scared and panicking, you might not know what to do and hide away from the fire for some semblance of safety, but that can be incredibly dangerous. It limits movement and makes it harder for you to be found when rescue services arrive. Furthermore, you may think you’re safe from the fire if you can’t see it, but the smoke and heat can be even more dangerous and can reach you wherever you are.

5. Do not use lifts Fire damage could short-circuit the lift at any time, meaning the doors could open at any time. Or, if power is lost, you could end up stuck in the lift. The lift shaft also acts as a natural chimney and fills with smoke, which means that the lift itself can very quickly fill with smoke as well and anyone inside would choke. Stairs are always the better, safer option.