Fire Safety Tips

When we think of emergencies, it is easy to think of natural disasters or events outside of the home. However, a house fire is one of the most common home emergencies. It is crucial that everyone know how to get out of their house in case of a fire. But, a fire escape plan is especially important to individuals with disabilities since they may face a greater risk of being injured in a fire.

You can increase your chances of escaping a fire by creating and practicing your fire safety plan until you are comfortable with it, and by using fire warning devices that match your abilities. Also, talk to your family members, caregivers, neighbors and personal support network about your fire safety plan. Practice your plan with them if you will need their help in a fire.

Tips and Tools

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms. Adaptive alarms, such as models with a vibrating pad or flashing light for people with sensory impairments, are available.
  • Consider smoke alarms with a stobe light. Some of these alarms can even be mounted outside your house to catch the attention of neighbors.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month. You can use a broom handle to reach the alarm if you use a wheelchair.
  • Clean your smoke alarm to keep it working. Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a hair dryer to remove dust and dirt that may have settled in your alarm.
  • Mount a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, as most house fires start in this room. If you have limited hand dexterity, you can replace the pull pin from the trigger mechanism with a spring device that locks the trigger.
  • If you live in a multi-level dwelling, sleep on the first floor if possible. Being on the ground floor will make it easier to get out quickly.
  • Know your exits. Practice how you will leave using all available accessible routes.
  • Prepare written emergency messages to give to first responders or others who do not know about your disability but are helping you. For example, a message could say, "I am deaf, but I read lips."
  • If you are in a smoky room, try getting as close to the floor as possible. If you use a wheelchair, lean over from the chest and shoulders if you are able.
  • If you use a wheelchair and your clothing catches on fire, practice the "stop, lock and cover to smother" procedure. Stop, lock your brakes, cover the fire using a small blanket or towel, and sweep your hand over the towel, away from your face to smother.