First-Aid: First-Aid for Fire Accidents

When fire takes place, get out fast, because smoke from plastic or foam can kill in less than two minutes.

The Fire Brigade should be called for any fire, however small.

If fire breaks out

At Home

(i) If the house catches fire

1. Get everyone in the house to a safe place on the ground floor so that they can get out quickly and safely. OR leave the house altogether, closing doors, windows, fan, lights, etc. so that draughts do not feed the fire.

2. Do not assume that someone else has called the fire brigade — do it yourself.

3. Only when everyone is safe should you start to tackle the fire, but only if you can do so without taking personal risks.

4. Use your fire extinguisher if you have one.

5. Wait for the fire brigade.

(ii) If you are trapped by a fire

1. Close the door of the room.

2. Block up the gap under the door with bedding, towels, clothes, etc., wetted if possible.

3. Attract attention at the window by shouting or waving a highly coloured article outside.

4. Should the room fill with smoke, go to the window and lean out for fresh air. If you cannot do this, lie flat on the floor face down until help arrives or the situation gets desperate.

5. Should the room begin to burn or you cannot breathe because of the smoke, tie sheets or other strong material together, secure one end to a heavy piece of furniture and use this ‘rope’ to lower yourself from the window.

6. Never jump out of a window. Lower yourself until you are hanging by your hands from the window sill and then drop, but do this only if (a) you can land safely, preferably on grass or soil, or (b) if things are really hopeless inside the building. Remember, many people injure themselves unnecessarily by panicking and jumping from a window when, for the sake of another minute’s wait, they could have been saved by firemen.

(iii) If someone’s clothes catch fire

1. If it is yourself — roll on the floor to smother the flames.

2. If it is someone else — get him to the ground by any means (push him over or trip him up if necessary). Throw a rug, blanket, coat, skirt, etc. over the burning area so as to exclude air from the flames. As you do this, protect the patient’s face and yourself by using the coat or blanket as a shield.

3. If it is a child — stop him from running around in panic (as this only fans the flames). Roll him in a blanket, etc. to put out the flames as above.

Smouldering clothes should not be smothered because the hot fabric will be forced on to the patient’s skin and so cause more damage. Carefully pull smouldering clothes off by unburnt parts. Put them in a fireproof bowl or other container or throw them on the floor and stamp on them. Call an ambulance. If the person is not seriously burnt, take him at once to a hospital.

Never try to remove clothes that are charred or burnt firmly on to a person. Leave this to experts.

(iv) If an oil heater catches fire

Stand atleast 6 ft (2 m) away, and throw on buckets of water.

(v) If a foam sofa or armchair catches fire

Burning plastic foam gives off choking black smoke that can overcome you in one minute. Do not try to put out the fire.

(1) Get out of the room and close the door to prevent the smoke from spreading.

(vi) If you smell burning at night

1. Alert everyone in the house.

2. If the fire is too big to deal with safely get everyone outside. If you think the fire is well alight in a closed room, do not open door to find out.

3. Shut all doors behind you to restrict the spread of flames and smoke.

4. Go to the nearest telephone, and ask for fire brigade. – Do not go back inside.

(vii) If you are trapped on an upper floor

1. Go to a room at the front of the house, close the door and block up cracks with bedding or clothes.

2. Open the window and call for help.

(viii) Do not jump out of the window, except as a last resort.

(ix) If a chimney catches fire

1. Remove the hearth rug and anything around the hearth that might burn.

2. Gently splash water on to the fire in the grate. Do not flood the fire or the water will be thrown back at you as a cloud of scalding steam.

3. If you have a fine meshed fire-guard, put it around the fire. If not, stand by with a bucket of water and a shovel to remove any burning soot that falls down the chimney and bounces back on to the carpet.

(x) If a chip pan or frying pan catches fire

1. Turn off the heat (oil, gas or electric).

2. Cover the pan with its lid, a tray or a damp towel. All of these starve the flames of air and so put them out. Do not throw water on the pan or carry it to a sink or window. As you carry a burning pan, the flames are forced back on to you and your hand, making you drop the pan and spread the fire.

(xi) If a TV or Computer catches fire

1. Pull out the plug or switch off at the main fuse box.

2. Smother the fire with a blanket or rug or a fire blanket.

– Do not use water or a fire extinguisher, because residual electricity may remain in the set.

(xii) Fire extinguishers

Every home should have a domestic fire extinguisher and preferably a fire blanket too. Make sure that these are kept in the hall or other easily accessible place. Do not keep them under the kitchen sink because there’s a strong possibility that you will not be able to get to them in the event of a kitchen fire. Keep a check on the expiry date on extinguishers, they do not last for ever.

(xiii) If a stove or heater catches fire

1. Close the doors and windows in the room.

2. Smother the appliance with a heavy rug, towel, blanket, etc.

3. Unless the fire goes out at once, get everyone out of the building.

(xiv) Electrical fires

1. Switch off the source of the electricity supply and pull out the plug.

2. Smother the appliance with a heavy rug, towel, blanket, etc.

3. Unless the fire goes out at once, get everyone out of the building.

4. Never throw water on to an electrical appliance.

(xv) In the shed or garage

1. Remove the car.

2. Remove any cans of petrol, cans of paint, creosote, etc.

3. Close all doors and windows.

4. Use a fire extinguisher if you have one.


1. Try simple measures to smother the fire or put it out with an extinguisher.

2. Turn off the gas cylinder outside and if possible disconnect it and roll it away.

3. Stand well clear.

4. Never leave children alone in a caravan.

If the fire is not immediately controllable, get out of the vehicle quickly as fires spread very rapidly in cars and caravans.


1. Stop the car.

2. Get everyone out.

3. Use a fire extinguisher if you have one and the fire is not too bad.

4. If engine compartment catches fire, open the bonnet a little only and push the nozzle of the fire extinguisher into the gap

5. For a serious fire — stand well clear because the petrol tank may explode or poisonous fumes from burning plastics may harm your lungs.

6. If you see someone in a burning car, try to drag him free if you can do so without endangering yourself. Speedy action can prevent the inhalation of killer fumes. These are just as likely to kill as the flames.

Remember the fire brigade should always be called to any fire however small.

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