What should you do if your clothing catches fire?

Hand presses the trigger fire extinguisher

Knowing how to handle a situation in advance is always important and, here at Eltham Workwear, we are constantly striving to protect you and keep you safe with our workwear and safety guides.

Do you know what you should and shouldn’t do if your clothes catch fire? This could be a life or death situation, which is why it is vital that we all know how to prevent further damage to ourselves. As most clothing items are flammable, they can catch on fire in a number of ways; this is usually by extended exposure to a heat source or by contact with a flame. Acting promptly will reduce the severity of any burn injury and or damage to surroundings. A good thing to know is that any bystander can help you if you are on fire. They can assist by dousing the fire with water, using a fire blanket, a non-flammable mat, blanket or article of clothing to assist in smothering the fire and putting it out.

What are the principles of putting a fire out?

A fire needs three elements to ignite: heat, fuel and oxygen. So you should try to restrict or remove, as much as possible, these elements when a fire occurs. Removing the heat is one of the most effective methods of fire extinction available, which is why water is popular. But water is not an appropriate extinguishing material to use on electrical fires. Additionally, as oxygen is a key component that causes combustion, removing oxygen from the equation is the final way of extinguishing a fire; smothering the fire will achieve this. Cooling removes the heat and starves the blaze of its source.

But remember, a water fire extinguisher (one with an all red body) is the only type of fire extinguisher that can be safely used in this situation. Do not use any other type of fire extinguisher as these might not put out the flames correctly, which could make the flames worse. Keep reading to find out what you should do if your clothes catch on fire. This could save your life!

What should you do if your clothing catches fire?

Disclaimer: Severity may depend on the situation and therefore, will depend on the action. This is in reference to a small flame on your arm, rather than being exposed to, for example, an explosion or an electrical arc flash.

Depending on where you are, whether that be your workplace, school or home, there may be a fire blanket, extinguisher or access to water available. If these are not available you must remember if your clothes catch fire:


The “stop, drop, roll – cool and call” procedure should be used to extinguish flames and lessen burn injuries if your clothes catch fire. In this order, this is how you put out flames if you or your clothes are on fire:

  • STOP immediately where you are
  • DROP to the ground
  • ROLL over and back and forth until the flames are extinguished. Cover your face and mouth with your hands – this will prevent flames from burning your face and smoke from entering your lungs. Roll until the flames are extinguished.
  • COOL any burns with cool water for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • CALL someone or the emergency services for help.

Remember, this could save your life! Although a scary situation for most people, this should be an implemented procedure from a young age. This is because young children can sometimes be confused if this situation occurs, but if you teach them to try and stay calm and follow: “Stop, drop and roll – cool and call”, they could prevent themselves and others from harm. Click here to see a demo to show your child.

What should I do if I am burnt?

Disclaimer: Severity may depend on the situation and therefore, will depend on the action. This is in reference to a small burn, if in doubt always turn to the emergency services.

In the procedure, you should “cool” a burn any time you burn your skin, not just when your clothes catch fire. If you get burned by touching a hot object or liquid, put the affected area under cool water for 10-15 minutes until pain subsides.

If your clothes or skin is burnt you should quickly remove any clothing and jewellery from the burned area. However, if the clothes are stuck to the skin, do not remove them – seek and wait for medical attention.

You should immediately treat the area with running cool water (and only water – not ice, cream or oil etc) for at least 15 minutes. You only need to apply cold water to the burned area but you should keep warm with a blanket or by someone else’s body heat. This is so that only the burned area is under the water and your body heat is keeping the rest of you warm. After 15 minutes of running cool water over the burnt area, you can use cling film or a clean cloth to cover and protect the burnt area from further damage. Do not wrap the cling film tightly and do not use it on faces. You should only use a wet cloth for facial burns.

Please seek medical attention if a burn is larger than a 50 piece coin, or if it is on the face, hands, feet, joints or groin area.

Get in touch

Eltham Workwear & Safety is a distributor and supplier of quality workwear and PPE to the UK market. The head office is based in Dartford, with another branch in Portslade, Sussex. We offer both B2C and B2B solutions via our website and our dedicated sales staff. We deliver to London, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hertfordshire, and we use DHL for deliveries to the rest of the UK.

Please get in touch here with our friendly team if you need any advice or if we can help you with safety workwear. We can, for additional cost, add your logo to all manner of garments and items, from caps and hardhats to fleeces and jackets using various methods of personalisation. Please click here to find out more.