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what would you grab if your house was on fire

What would you grab first in a fire?

Laptops, photo albums and jewellery top the list of things people would grab first if their house was on fire

10 July 2019

Discovering your home on fire is a frightening prospect. After making sure your family and pets are out of the property and are safe, and knowing you have your phone and wallet safely in pocket, what would people do next?

  • Laptops, photo albums and jewellery top the list
  • Collections of stamps, vinyl and musical instruments are most grabbed
  • TVs, games consoles and wedding dresses also clutched from the flames
  • AA insurance advises “don’t risk it”

Seven out of 10 (72%*) would try to save something from a burning building in this scenario, with more than a third opting to save their laptop, tablet or PC (36%) according to a survey by the AA Insurance Consumer Index (AA ICI).

A third (33%) would choose to save their photo albums while a fifth (19%) would dash back for their favourite watch or item of jewellery.

Homeowners in London, the South West and Eastern England would be most likely to rescue a family heirloom from a fire (21%), while more than one in 10 in Wales would save a piece of artwork from a fiery demise (13%).

Home with garage

Collections, paperwork and tech

A fifth of people said that if they had the time, they would save their prized collection. These included; stamps, coins, military medals and vinyl records.

Musical instruments including; guitars, drums, oboes and saxophones would also be saved from fires. Cuddly toys, wedding dresses, train sets and Star Wars figures were also singled out as worthy of saving according to the 18,000 strong panel.

Legal documents

Although more personal possessions were identified, people displayed a strong practical element too. Passports, wills, legal documents, insurance policies and other personal papers would be taken with people heading out of a fire.

Our ever-growing love for technology was seen too, with; cameras, TVs, games consoles and portable hard drives saved from a fire.

Janet Connor, managing director for AA Insurance services says; “We all hope to never be in this situation, but just considering the prospect for a minute makes us think about what we hold important to us.

We all hope to never be in this situation, but just considering the prospect for a minute makes us think about what we hold important to us
Janet Connor, managing director for AA Insurance services

“However, in the heat of the moment our minds can do funny things and make us want to grab something out of the ordinary, like that book we never quite finished. 

“Most items and objects can be replaced by your insurer, but we still hold value in sentimental items like photo albums, or objects handed down to us from our parents, grandparents or further back.

“Ultimately, prevention is better than cure, so make sure you regularly test your smoke alarms and check your home to ensure you don’t have any potential fire hazards.

Don't risk it

“If there is a fire in your home then our advice is simple – don’t risk it. It is more important to make a quick and safe exit, ensuring all your family and pets are well away from danger and once you are out, stay out.”


* Populus received 18,200 responses from AA members to its online poll between 14 and 21 May 2019

Question: Which, if any, of the following would you try to save if your property was on fire? Please answer it with the knowledge that everyone in the household was safely outside the property and you already have your phone, wallet and keys with you.