What to do in an emergency

  • if you're a witness, dial 999 and alert police/fire/ambulance
  • if you're stranded in your home, tune in to your local radio and / or television station for advice. Listen out for emergency telephone numbers
  • if you use social media, make sure you are following local public services such as the council, Police and Fire Service. 

Pass on any warning to neighbours, and check on the elderly and disabled, if it's safe to do so. Try to limit your telephone calls.

Emergency provisions

You may find it useful to keep the following items in your home in case of emergencies:

  • torch and batteries
  • candles and matches
  • portable radio and batteries
  • something to drink and eat (cans or bottled water)

If you're alerted by the police or fire service

You may be asked to stay indoors and close outside doors and windows.

If the police or fire service ask you to leave your home please follow their instructions. Their prime responsibility is your safety and they will know more than you about the level of danger.

They will probably ask you to go to a rest centre. If you decide to go anywhere else, let someone know so you can be accounted for.

If there is time, take warm clothing, special food for babies and any medicines you may need.

Remember to switch off gas and electrical appliances, and extinguish any coal burning fires.

Air crash

An air crash may cause disruption to transport links, utilities and other services, particularly mobile telephone systems. Stay away from the area and restrict telephone calls.

A burning aircraft releases toxic fumes and may explode, so you must:

  • stay away from the immediate area.
  • keep upwind
  • do not touch any debris
  • tune into local radio and television for up to date information. If you use social media you can also get information from the official channels of local public services.

Toxic gas

What to do in the event of toxic gas or radioactive clouds.

  • turn off air conditioning and ventilation fans
  • extinguish all flames, for example pilot lights
  • put away or cover all fresh food
  • have emergency provisions ready

Do not go outside until you are told that it is safe to do so. With radiation everything will look normal and you will not see, smell or feel anything different.

Do not use rainwater - it may look normal but could be dangerous to drink or wash with.

Do not use leafy vegetables or difficult to wash produce.

Do not try to collect your children from school unless told to do so. They will be looked after and the correct action taken.

Animals and pets

Pets should be kept under cover, but do not go looking for your cat or dog if it is out when the emergency is announced. They can be cared for when the emergency is over. Do not touch any animals that have been outside.

If you need to go back to a restricted area to feed or care for live stock or horses contact the police, who will make the necessary arrangements.


Listen for public announcements on local radio stations, television or loudspeakers. Official public service social media channels will also give you up to date information. You will be told when it is safe to go outside and what other actions to take during the emergency.

Please keep telephone systems free for use by the emergency services, unless the call is absolutely necessary. Emergency services might need to contact you to issue instructions.

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