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What to do in an emergency

Practical information about what to do in an emergency

Have you made your emergency plan?

Emergencies can happen at any time and can take any form, it may be a fire, a gas leak or a burst water main. We have developed our new ‘My Emergency Plan’ booklet to help you prepare a plan and give you the best chance should an emergency take place. 

The booklet will take you through all the steps you need to make your plan and is designed so you can fill in all the relevant details and then keep it somewhere safe with everything ready should you need it.

You can download the booklet from 'Useful documents' at the bottom of this page. It has been designed so that you can print it easily at home.  

General advice 

  • make sure someone has called 999 if people are injured or if there is a threat to life
  • don't put yourself or others in danger
  • follow the advice from the emergency services
  • try to remain calm, think before acting and try and reassure others
  • check for injuries, help yourself before you help others
  • let your loved ones know if you are safe and well.

If you are not involved in the incident but are nearby and believe you are in danger, in most cases the advice is go in, stay in, tune in:

  • go inside a safe building
  • stay inside until you are told otherwise
  • tune into a local radio or to the TV (BBC News 24 or Sky News) for more information.

Don't forget

  • ensure you have access to ready cash as ATMs will be heavily used
  • if you have a long commute, pre-plan a list of local hotels close to your work, you may have to stay there if public transport is shut down
  • see if you can keep spare clothing/toiletries at work.


  • reduce fire hazards in your home
  • contact the London Fire Brigade for a free Home Fire Safety Visit
  • fit and maintain smoke alarms in your home, one per floor
  • plan an exit route from your home as most fire deaths occur when people are asleep
  • if there is a fire dial 999, then get out and stay out
  • never use a lift in the event of a fire
  • if trapped in a building or moving in smoke stay close to the floor
  • never open a warm or hot door as there may be fire on the other side.

Bombs and explosions

  • if you are inside a building look for the safest way out
  • it might be safer to stay in the building, follow advice
  • keep away from glass areas
  • if a bomb explodes outside your building keep away from windows as there may be a second device.

If you are trapped inside a building:

  • stay close to a wall for added protection
  • tap on pipes to attract attention
  • don't use naked flames
  • if you see an explosion or anything suspicious tell a police officer.

Chemical and biological incidents

  • the Fire Brigade can decontaminate people using a variety of methods
  • if you are contaminated do not leave the scene, wait for help.

Power failure

  • turn off electrical/gas/water appliances that would automatically switch on when power is restored
  • consider whether or not you can safely stay in your premises while power is being restored
  • have in stock torches with batteries, candles and matches but think safety
  • carefully check your home before you leave.

Around your home

  • know how to turn off your gas, water and electricity
  • know how your family will keep in contact in an emergency
  • know any school emergency procedures for your children
  • make sure you are adequately insured for your contents and building and keep policy details handy
  • keep a list of useful phone numbers either on your mobile phone or in a notebook
  • be aware of the location of your valuables and critical documents in case you have to take them with you in an emergency
  • as above, for clothing and toiletries
  • think! What would I need to do if I had no electricity/gas/water for 48 hours.
  • keep a box handy containing torches, batteries, candles, matches, first aid kit.

Evacuating your home

You may have to leave your home temporarily for a number of reasons including a flood, power failure, gas escape, crime scene or a fire.

If you have time: 

  • secure and check your premises and turn off appliances
  • take a supply of sensible shoes/clothing, toiletries and towel
  • take cash, credit card, mobile phone and charger, house keys and laptop
  • take personal prescribed medication
  • take your spectacles/dentures if your wear them
  • think about your pets
  • think 48 hours ahead, take what you need.

When you are out and about

  • keep a credit card and some cash on you
  • keep your mobile phone charged
  • in summer carry a bottle of water
  • in winter have warm clothing including hat and gloves.
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