How People with Disabilities Can Stay Safe from Fire
Unfortunately, people with disabilities have unique challenges in preventing and escaping emergencies. Regarding fire, they have a greater risk of starting a fire or getting hurt in one. To overcome their challenges in preventing and escaping fires without harm, they need to have a specific safety plan. Here are fire safety tips for people with a physical, auditory, visual, or mental disability.
Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping area and every level of the home. The alarms should be tested monthly by pressing the test button. Also, the batteries must be replaced each year. Those who can’t reach the test button should ask someone to test it for them.
Those who have a hearing impairment should install smoke alarms and alert devices made specifically for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They detect the sound of smoke alarms and flash strobe lights. Those who are hard of hearing can also opt for smoke alarms that emit a loud, low-pitched sound alert. Another option is using vibrating pillows and a bed shaker that wake you up when an alarm sounds. It’s also a good idea to keep a telecommunication device for the deaf (TTD) phone in the bedroom close to the bed.
Caution must be exercised when cooking. The kitchen is where most fires caused by people with disabilities start. The oven or stove should always be supervised when cooking. Using a timer also helps prevent disasters.
People with disabilities should live closest to a ground floor exit. Whether they live in an apartment building or a multistory home, disabled people should arrange to live on the first floor of a building. This way, they’ll be able to escape faster in case of a fire.
Disabled persons should discuss and practice their fire safety plan with family members, building managers or neighbors. The fire escape plan should be practiced with the service animal if they have one.
The local fire department should be informed about the disabled person’s condition and explain their needs. The fire department can perform a home fire safety inspection and suggest escape plan ideas.
Those who use a walker or wheelchair must make sure they can easily get through the doorways. If possible, the door should be designed around their disability. A good idea for wheelchair users is to widen the doorways and install exit ramps to make an emergency escape easier.
A phone should always be kept near the bed to be ready to call 911 if a fire or other emergency occurs.
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