Fire Safety for People with Disabilities
More than 43 million Americans have a disability. The identity of the group of Americans with disabilities is constantly changing — at any moment we ourselves could become part of this group, for maybe a short time or maybe for a long time.
This is why it is important to be familiar with fire safety practices for those with disabilities. Here is everything you need to know!
Understand your fire risk
- Having physical or mental disabilities doesn’t mean you can’t keep you and your family safe from fire.
- Build your home safety plan around your abilities.
Install and maintain smoke alarms
- Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.
- Ask the manager of your building, or a friend or relative, to install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home.
- Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. If you can’t reach the test button on your smoke alarm, ask someone to test it for you.
Live near an exit
- 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.
- If you live in a multistory home, arrange to sleep on the first floor.
- Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.
Plan your escape
- Plan your escape around your capabilities.
- Know at least two exits from every room.
- If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can get through the doorways.
- Make any necessary changes, such as installing exit ramps and widening doorways, to make an emergency escape easier.
Don’t isolate yourself
- Speak to your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
- Contact your local fire department’s nonemergency line and explain your needs. They can suggest escape plan ideas and may perform a home fire safety inspection if you ask.
- Ask emergency providers to keep your needs information on file.
- Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.
Fire Safety for People with Disabilities- Quick Facts
- There are approximately 700 home fires involving people with physical disabilities.
- There are approximately 1,700 home fires involving people with mental disabilities.
- Kitchens and cooking areas are the primary areas where these fires start.
- An estimated 700 residential building fires involving individuals with physical disabilities are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an estimated 160 deaths, 200 injuries, and $26 million in total loss.
- Cooking (22%) is the leading cause of residential building fires where a physical disability is reported as a human factor contributing to ignition.