Just as schools have fire drills, families should have an emergency plan. This is even more critical if there is a person with a disability living in the home.
Here are some tips to help your family members get out safely in case of a fire:
- All families should have working smoke detectors in their homes. It is important to install smoke alarms in every bedroom. Install alarms in the kitchen and living areas. Upstairs and down.
- Consider visual smoke detectors for those with hearing impairments. Visual alarms use strobe lights to alert someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. As an extra level of protection, shaker devices are available. The shaker is activated by the sound of the alarm, causing a pillow or bed to vibrate.
State law requires apartments to provide visual smoke alarms for residents with impaired hearing. Be sure to notify the landlord if you or your child is deaf or hard of hearing. Visual alarms must be installed in the bedroom where the person sleeps.
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities offers free visual fire alarms for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. If you live outside the city, check your local mayor’s office or fire department to see if they provide visual fire alarms.
- Test your smoke detector at least once a month by pushing the test button. Make a note on your calendar. Or set a reminder on your phone so you won’t forget. Change your batteries when indicated, at least twice a year. Some experts suggest changing batteries whenever your clocks are reset for Daylight Savings Time.
Many smoke detectors only last for 10 years. Make a note of when you installed the unit. And check the product guide to see when it should be replaced.
Have an escape plan! Home fire drills should be practiced regularly, preferably once a month. Make sure everyone has an escape route. There should be at least two exits from every room. Everyone in the home should participate.
If your child uses a wheelchair or walker, have them practice the drill with their device. Make sure they can easily pass through all doorways. Install ramps at exits. Also, include service animals in the plan.
- Find out if your local fire department has a registry for people who may need extra help. They may also be able to help you with your safety plan.
- Keep a phone by your bed to call 9-1-1. Be sure your address is clearly marked and visible from the street.
- Your family’s safety is a priority. With the right planning and preparation, you can help keep your loved ones safe when crisis calls.
The U.S. Fire Administration has fire safety resources for people with disabilities. Visit their site at https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/disabilities.html.
Learn how to make a plan and be prepared should your family be faced with an emergency.