In an emergency

You always hope that an emergency will never happen to you. But sometimes the worst can happen and it’s important to be prepared. So we’ve put together some handy guidance, tips and help so that you can be ready in an emergency.

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Dialling 999

Even if you think someone has already called 999 for the fire service, DO call us yourself to be sure. We’d rather get several calls about a genuine emergency than none at all. NEVER be tempted to tackle a fire yourself, however small it appears. ALWAYS get out, stay out, call 999.

Dialling 999 is ALWAYS free on a landline, payphone or mobile phone.

How does it work?

When you dial 999, you go through to a BT operator. They’ll ask what service you require. If you need the fire service, say fire. Then you’ll be connected to our Fire Control room.

What we need to help you

  • try to stay calm and speak clearly
  • operators will ask WHAT you’re reporting and WHERE it is
  • be ready with the house number, road name and district
  • the operator will also ask if you know the name of a road which joins the one where the incident is
  • even if it’s a fire outside, the number of the nearest house will still help
  • the postcode’s useful if it’s a common name, like Church Road
  • a landmark, like a big factory or a school can be helpful.

What if you can’t hear or speak down the phone?

If you can’t hear or talk over the telephone, there is an emergency SMS service you can use instead. Scroll down to the emergency SMS section to read more.


If you’re on a mobile phone, we might ask you to use a system called 999eye.

Launched by Capita in collaboration with West Midlands Fire Service, 999eye is the first-ever smartphone solution that enables 999 callers, with compatible mobile, to securely send live footage or images of incidents to our control room.

999eye live footage offers instant ‘on-scene eyes’ to our operators, helping them assess the situation and to send the appropriate resources.

It works by sending, with the 999 caller’s permission, a text message to their smartphone containing a link. Once clicked, a one-use-only live stream is established that allows footage or images to be sent directly to the control room.

NEVER move closer to a fire or other incident to take pictures or videos unless you are asked to by our operators and it’s safe to do so.

Escape plan

Having a smoke alarm is the first crucial step to protecting yourself from fire. But what would you do if it went off during the night? A well-practised escape plan could be a life-saver if you have a fire.

Make sure you have an escape plan involving everyone who lives in your home, and share the plan with any visitors.

Our video on this section covers the important information, but here are some top tips to keep you safe:

  • the best escape route is the normal way in and out of your home
  • make sure everyone knows where your door and window keys are kept.
  • think of any difficulties you may have getting out, e.g. at night you may need a torch
  • keep the route and exits clear of obstructions
  • think about how children, older or disabled people or pets will get out
  • choose a second escape route, in case your first choice is blocked.
  • NEVER be tempted to tackle a fire yourself, however small it appears. ALWAYS get out, stay out, call 999.

If you can’t escape, you’ll need to find a room to take refuge in. This is especially important if you have difficulty moving around on your own.

Emergency sms

What if you can’t make voice calls?

If you can’t make voice calls, there’s an emergency SMS service. Send a text to 999. This works on all mobiles in the UK, but not abroad. Here’s how to register and find out more.

Please only use this for real emergencies.

Text clearly with:

  • which service you need (police, fire, ambulance or coastguard)
  • briefly WHAT the emergency is
  • WHERE it is.

Don’t assume that your message has been received until you get one back.

You can also contact us using Typetalk 18000

Other useful links!

Dialling 999 | 999eye | Fire Control | Home safety

First aid

Burns and scalds

If someone has a burn or scald:

  • cool the burn as quickly as possible with cool, running water for at least 20 minutes or until the pain is relieved
  • call 999 or seek medical help, if needed
  • while cooling the burn, carefully remove any clothing or jewellery in the affected area, unless it’s attached to the skin
  • if you’re cooling a large burnt area, particularly for babies, children and elderly people, be aware that it may cause hypothermia (it may be necessary to stop cooling the burn to avoid hypothermia)
  • cover the burn loosely with cling film; if cling film isn’t available, use a clean, dry dressing or non-fluffy material. Don’t wrap the burn tightly, because swelling could lead to further injury
  • don’t apply creams, lotions or sprays to the burn.

Chemical burns

Wear protective gloves, remove any affected clothing, and rinse the burn with cool, running water for at least 20 minutes to wash out the chemical. If possible, determine the cause of the injury.

In certain situations where a chemical is regularly handled, a specific chemical antidote may be available to use.

Be careful not to contaminate and injure yourself with the chemical, and wear protective clothing if necessary.

Call 999 or 112 for immediate medical help.

Read more about how to treat burns and scalds on the NHS website.

If someone is bleeding heavily, the main aim is to prevent further blood loss and minimise the effects of shock (see below).

First, dial 999 and ask for an ambulance as soon as possible.

If you have disposable gloves, use them to reduce the risk of any infection.

Check there’s nothing embedded in the wound. If there is, take care not to press down on the object.

Instead, press firmly on either side of the object and build up padding around it before bandaging, to avoid putting pressure on the object itself.

If nothing is embedded:

  • apply and maintain pressure to the wound with your gloved hand, using a clean pad or dressing if possible; continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops
  • use a clean dressing to bandage the wound firmly
  • if bleeding continues through the pad, apply pressure to the wound  until the bleeding stops and then apply another pad over the top and bandage it in place. Don’t remove the original pad or dressing, but continue to check that the bleeding has stopped.

If a body part, such as a finger, has been severed, place it in a plastic bag or wrap it in cling film and make sure it goes with the casualty to hospital.

Always seek medical help for bleeding unless it’s minor.

First aid is an amazing skill to have. If you’re interested in becoming first aid-trained, we offer courses to workplaces and you can book here.

Other organisations such as the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance also run first aid courses for work, schools and individuals.

Other useful links!

Dialling 999 | 999eye | Fire Control | Home safety