The scale of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower has not been seen before in the UK and our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy.

Understandably people living in high-rise buildings now have many questions.

Living above the first floor doesn’t necessarily make you any more at risk from fire.

High-rise flats are designed to contain fires within a flat or compartment while communal corridors and stairs provide escape routes based on occupancy and height of the building.

However there are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family in your home:

  • We encourage people to take preventative measures and to do a bedtime check.
  • Make sure you check the cooker is turned off and turn off and unplug electrical appliances.
  •  Put candles and cigarettes out properly, ensuring there are no embers still burning.
  • Please turn heaters off and put up fireguards if needed.
  • Exits should be kept clear and you should close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.

If you don’t already have them, please get yourself a smoke alarm for every level of your home.

They will give you an early warning of a fire, enabling you to get to safety and call the emergency services.

There are specialist alarms available for anyone who cannot hear the standard alarms.

These include lights and vibrating pads which can go under pillows.

We carry out home safety visits where we can give you or someone you know advice and help.

Call 0800 177 7069 for more information.

Everyone should have an escape plan.

When it comes to escape plans, please involve everyone who lives in your home, including children, older people or those with disabilities, and any lodgers.

If you live in a block of flats, find out the plan for your building in terms of escape routes and evacuation procedures.

Instructions and guidance should be posted on corridors and stairwells.

If not, please contact your landlord for further help.

The best escape route is often the normal way in and out of your home but remember you will not be able to use the lift if there’s a fire.

Count how many doors there are on the route to get to the stairs when you can’t use the lift, in case you can’t find your way.

Make sure stairways and fire escapes are kept clear of all obstructions and that fire doors are never locked and that emergency lighting and signs are effective.

Regularly check that you can open the doors to stairways or escapes from both sides.

Think of any difficulties you may have getting out, for example at night you may need to have a torch to light your way.

Decide where the keys to doors and windows should be kept and always keep them there, making sure everyone knows the location.

Once you know your plan, go through it with everyone in the household.

You could also put a reminder of what to do in a fire somewhere it will be seen regularly, like on the fridge door.

Also put your address by the phone so that children can read it out to the emergency services.

If there is a fire inside your flat or maisonette, our advice is to alert all the people in your flat and leave, closing your doors behind you.

You should follow your escape plan and if there is lots of smoke, crawl along the floor where the air should be clearer.

Always use the stairs rather than the lift and call 999 as soon as you are in a safe place.

If there is a fire elsewhere in the building then the structure of your flat – walls, floors, doors – are designed to give you a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes protection from a fire.

If there is a fire in your building but not inside your own home, then you are usually safer to stay in your flat unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you.

If you stay put you should still immediately call 999.

It is important to remember that this advice may change and you should follow the instructions of firefighters when they arrive on scene.

  • Mark Andrews is the East Sussex Fire and Rescue deputy chief fire officer and director of service delivery. If you would like more information about fire safety, visit