Rhea is a fine example of how to stay cool and safe

Surely, holding a door open for a member of either sex is just good manners?

LESLEY KEATING: Would you dare hold a door open for a woman?

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Get out. Stay out. Call us out. It’s just one of a number of slogans which the fire service has used to persuade people to leave to the experts the difficult and dangerous job of tackling a blaze at home or at work.

It’s sound advice of course and over the years must have saved the lives of many people.

But like all safety messages, it needs to be constantly reiterated and reinforced. Because the fact is that, although one instinctive action is to run from fire, another is to try to put out what seems a small and perhaps inconsequential blaze.

And it is that simple misguided act which has claimed lives in the past.

In the panic of the moment – and even when level-headed – many people simply do not appreciate the terrifying speed at which fire can spread.

Neither do they appreciate the deadly effects of smoke, which can disable and kill long before a fire has visibly really taken hold.

So it is hugely important that we are all regularly reminded of the need to act quickly, coolly and correctly – and what better way of hammering home the message than with a real-life example?

Step forward schoolgirl Rhea Kingswell, who has received a fire service certificate of commendation for getting herself and her nine-year-old brother Shay out of their Emsworth home when a blaze broke out.

Rhea, 15, did everything right as soon as she realised that the dishwasher in the kitchen was on fire.

She led her brother to safety, closing the door as she did so to inhibit the fire’s spread and, after calling 999 from the safety of the road outside, alerted her neighbours to ensure that they were not caught in any sudden escalation of the blaze.

So it is good to see her getting official recognition for her coolness.

She is an example to others and a credit to her family.

Let us hope that someone, somewhere might one day owe their life or that of another to remembering her actions.

And if you do not have a well-rehearsed fire evacuation plan for your family home, today is as good a day as any to create one.