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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Advice on general emergencies

There is a lot you can do yourself in the event of an emergency. Whether the emergency is fire, bomb or accident related, remember to keep calm and listen to the advice of the emergency services.

Fire prevention and safety

  • reduce fire hazards in your home
  • fit and maintain smoke alarms - at least one on every floor
  • most fire deaths and injuries occur while people are sleeping - plan an escape route should a fire break out at night
  • if there is a fire, get out, stay out and call 999
  • never use the lift
  • if there is smoke, stay close to the floor where the air is cleaner
  • if a door feels hot, do not open it, as it probably means there is a fire on the other side


If there is a bomb warning at your place of work, follow the advice of those in charge. If a bomb goes off in your building, look for the safest way out.

If you are trapped in debris:

  • stay close to a wall and tap on pipes so that rescuers can hear you
  • do not use matches or lighters in case of gas leaks

If a bomb goes off outside your building, stay inside (away from windows, lifts and outer doors) in case there is a second bomb in the area. If you saw the explosion, stay in the area in a safe place and tell the police what you saw.

The Fire and Rescue Service has become equipped in recent years to decontaminate large numbers of people quickly. This usually involves:

  • showering with soap and water
  • dressing in temporary clothing

It is important that this takes place where the incident happened so that other areas, including homes, are not contaminated. If necessary you would also be assessed by health service personnel.

Chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) incident

In all of these situations - keep calm, think before you act and listen to the advice of the emergency services

If there is a CBR incident, move away from the immediate source of danger.

Wait for the emergency services to arrive and examine you and, if necessary, decontaminate you. If you go home untreated you could contaminate others and make any incident worse.

If there is a major power cut, turn off electrical appliances that will automatically power up when power is restored.  This is to stop a power overload if several restart at once. Tune into local radio for advice and updates using a battery powered radio.

Emergency plans exist in all areas of the UK

The police, fire and ambulance services have tried and tested plans for responding to incidents. These cover any emergency, from fires to explosions, whether they are at your home, your school or affect transport networks.

Emergency equipment, vaccines and antibiotics are stored around the UK and are quickly available to doctors.

Emergency planning exercises

Every year, many exercises are held involving the emergency services and all agencies responsible for recovery. These exercises practise our response to a range of emergencies, including terrorism, by testing our preparedness.

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Additional links

Preparing for emergencies booklet

The booklet is available to download in a number of languages

Useful contacts

Websites and phone numbers to help you prepare for an emergency

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