Fire Safety for People with Disabilities

    • Anonymous
      October 5, 2006 at 11:28 pm

      [B][FONT=Times New Roman][COLOR=red][SIZE=1]By Dave Shafto, Disabled Firefighter[/SIZE][/COLOR][/FONT][/B]

      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Fire is especially dangerous for those of us that are disabled. Now is the time to plan for if a fire occurs in your home. Your chances of escape and avoiding injury will depend on how quickly and safely you are able to get out. Consequently, it would be a lot easier if you have already thought of an escape plan and know two ways out.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red] [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Whether you live alone or with someone, you should notify your local fire and police departments a non-emergency telephone number that you are disabled and have special needs in case of emergency. The key to serving a fire is preparation before fire happens.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red] [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Depending on your individual physical limitations, wheel chair, blind, deaf, etc., many of the actions you take to protect yourself from the dangers of fire may require help from a spouse, caretaker, neighbor, or an outside source.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red] [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][U]I borrowed the following excerpt from the [/U][U]United States[/U][U] Fire Administration:[/U][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Approximately 4,000 Americans die 20,000 are injured in fires each year. The risk of death or injury from fire is even greater for people with physical, mental or sensory disabilities. The good news is deaths resulting from failed emergency escapes are preventable through preparation.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][I]The [/I][I]United States[/I][I] Fire Administration (USFA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) want people with disabilities, their caregivers and all Americans to know that there are special precautions you can take to protect yourself and your home from fire.[/I][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][I]Why are People with Disabilities at Risk?[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]People with disabilities should be more cautious because of physical limitations and a decreased ability to react in an emergency. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]People with disabilities are typically fiercely independent and do not wish to alter their lives from those of the general public. However, this can lead them to ignore their special fire safety needs. In some cases people with disabilities may need the help of a caregiver to practice proper fire safety precautions. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/LIST][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][I]INSTALL AND MAINTAIN SMOKE ALARMS[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]People with disabilities should be aware of the special fire warning devices that are available.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the house to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help are also available. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Ask the manager of your building, or a friend or relative to install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Make sure your smoke alarms are tested monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/LIST][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][I]LIVE NEAR AN EXIT[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Although you have the legal right to live where you choose, you’ll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the first floor. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/LIST][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][I]PLAN YOUR ESCAPE[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Plan your escape around your capabilities.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Know at least two exits from every room. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/LIST][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red][B][I]DON’T ISOLATE YOURSELF[/I][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
      [I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]People with disabilities have often been excluded from the development and practicing of escape plans and fire safety drills. As a result, their vital input is omitted and their fire safety needs remain unfulfilled. Speak up to ensure that all parties receive the fire safety information that everyone deserves.[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency line and explain your special needs. They will probably suggest escape plan ideas, and may perform a home fire safety inspection and offer suggestions about smoke alarm placement and maintenance. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I]
      [*][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs. [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/LIST][B][I][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]KNOW YOUR ABILITIES[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/I][/B]
      [I][U][FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3][COLOR=red]Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You![/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/U][/I]

    • Anonymous
      October 6, 2006 at 12:08 pm

      [COLOR=”Purple”]Thanks, Dave this is great information. I’m giving a copy to my parents. My stepdad is disabled and I don’t think they’ve ever thought about what they would do in a fire. Vicki[/COLOR]

    • Anonymous
      October 6, 2006 at 3:37 pm


      Thank you for using your first hand knowledge as a fire fighter and disabled person to prepare this useful information.

      I’m so proud of you for taking your experience and using it to benefit others.

      Best wishes, Suzanne

    • Anonymous
      October 6, 2006 at 4:01 pm

      Hi, Dave.

      Thanks for this. Non-disabled people shouldn’t ignore the possibility of fire; for those of us with disabilities it’s even more important.

      But fire safety brings up a frustrating memory. My company hired a new manager several years ago who took upon himself all of health and safety for the organization, as well as the legal ramifications of the Disabilities Discrimination Act (UK). At the time I was having a great deal of trouble getting off the building’s toilets–I needed a handrail in order to pull myself up–and I needed the stair rails to be extended to the full length of the stairs.

      I hounded him about the handrails. So to help me he contacted the Fire Brigade and determined where, in case of fire while I’m upstairs, I could stand and wait to be rescued. There are a couple of areas which are considered fire resistant (they have strong fire doors). Mind you, if the building catches fire and I’m upstairs, I’ll crawl down the stairs on my hands and knees rather than stand around waiting to be rescued (which would also get me closer to the fresher air near the floor).

      It took two years to get the handrails, despite my assurances to this H&S manager that I was more likely to have to go to the toilet than to have to escape a fire. And in the interim I sorted out my own escape plans, from both fire and the toilet.

      Keep fighting.


    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2006 at 5:45 pm

      Loved your info. Just wanted to say hi again and wish you the most happiness ever. I haven’t been able to get on the board until now. Long story!!!!!! I’m so glad your here and wish you and your wife the best ever. Just had to say hi. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Roxie

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2006 at 6:39 pm

      Dave, thanks for all the info you posted. I never would have thought about it on my own. Do you really think it would make a difference if I called the fire department today to let them know I am handicapped? I am alone in the house periodically, next time next week. How would they know about me if there was an emergency? I really have no idea how this all works. Do they store the info on a computer and do they look it up in each case when they get an emergency call?

      Thanks again.

    • Anonymous
      October 11, 2006 at 3:25 pm

      [COLOR=#ff0000]Most fire/police dispatches store special information relating to an address when needed. When that address is enter a “flag” or the special info will pop up and dispatch can relay that info to the responders.[/COLOR]

    • Anonymous
      October 11, 2006 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks, Dave. I live in a larger city. I assume they have the required technology installed to do what you described. Still havn’t called, though. Have to wait til we get back home.

      BTW, I noticed your new banner. But our smoke detectors don’t have batteries. They are powered by the house current and interconnected. I just found out about how that works recently.

    • Anonymous
      October 11, 2006 at 9:09 pm

      [COLOR=#ff0000]double check them, there may be a battery back-up![/COLOR]