Video transcript: What to do in a fire

Read the transcript for our 'What to do in a fire' video.

The Ministry for Ethnic Communities  and the National Emergency Management Agency have worked together to create this series of videos, so our communities know what to do to prepare for different disasters and emergencies, and how to respond when they happen.

Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. This could include earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunami, fires, and volcanic activity.

When an emergency happens, Civil Defence and emergency services will be busy helping the people who need them most, so it’s important that you have a plan to look after yourself and your family.

This video explains what to do in a fire. If there's a fire in your house, you'll have around 3 minutes to get you and your family out before the fire becomes unsurvivable. So everyone who lives there needs to know the best ways out in the event of a fire. Make sure you practice your escape plan every 3-6 months. Fire and Emergency New Zealand have Fire Safety Checklists to make sure your home is Fire Safe. You can use this checklist to spot any risks or hazards that might cause a fire.

Before a fire, make sure you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom, hallways and living area and have a plan to make sure everyone knows how they will get out. Plan using Fire and Emergency’s online escape planner tool. Determine at least two alternative ways to escape, and decide on a safe place where everyone will meet.

During a fire, shout 'FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!' so that everybody inside knows there is danger and if there’s smoke, get on your hands and knees and crawl low and fast to escape. The smoke will be hot and poisonous, and if you breathe it in, it could be fatal so remember: Get Down, Get Low, Get out. FAST! If you can, close doors behind you to stop the fire spreading. But if you can't get out of the house, close the door of the room you're in and put a towel under it to stop the smoke coming in. Go to the window and yell 'FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!', and wait for help. If a window has security locks or can’t be opened, consider using a nearby object to break the glass, then use bedding to cover any sharp pieces of glass to escape unharmed. As soon as it's safe, you should call 111 immediately, either from a mobile phone or a neighbour's house. Fire and Emergency will not charge you if you call them. Practice saying your home address in English to let Firefighters know where the fire is. Meet at your agreed meeting place which should be somewhere safely away from the house like your mailbox, and once you're out of the house, never go back inside. Finally, remember to let the arriving firefighters know whether you are all safely out or if there’s anyone missing.

After a fire, it's important you don’t enter your damaged house unless you need to, and an emergency services official has told you it's safe to go back in. Fire and Emergency NZ will check the water, electricity, and gas supplies and either arrange to have them disconnected or let you know what to do next so if you can't enter your home, you'll need to arrange accommodation. You may need to stay with family, friends or in other accommodation if there is serious damage to your house. If your house is too damaged to live in, board up openings to discourage trespassers. You may need to arrange security patrols to protect your house from burglary. Remember to keep receipts for expenses resulting from the fire such as accommodation or clothes.

If you can return to your home throw away any food, drinks or medicine that have been exposed to fire, smoke, or water. Wash tins and jars in detergent and water. Don't eat tinned food if the tin has bulged or rusted and don't refreeze any food that has defrosted. Wash cooking pots and pans with detergent and water and then rinse and polish with a fine-powdered cleaner. It’s important to have all electrical appliances checked by a qualified service person before you use them. Fire and Emergency New Zealand have detailed information about how to best clean your house and ensure everything is safe to use on their website.

After any emergency, listen to the advice of Civil Defence and emergency services and don’t do anything that puts your safety at risk or causes more damage to your property. Remember to check on your neighbours and help others if you can, especially people who may need extra support.

Make sure you review your insurance regularly. Having insurance cover for your home and contents is important to help you get back to normal if you suffer damage in a disaster. If you don’t have insurance, this will take longer and may involve more hardship for you and your family. If your property is damaged contact your insurance company as soon as possible. If you’re renting, contact your landlord and your contents insurance company.

For more information about preparing for and responding to emergencies, go to

Remember, if you need to contact Government services in an emergency and need language support, you can request an interpreter.

Last modified: