Fire Safety Tips for People with Disabilities

Having a disability is challenging but when there is a fire it can be very difficult.  Rabun County Assistant Fire Chief Justin Upchurch offers this safety advice for people with disabilities.  “People with disabilities are going to have the same incidents like anyone, fires in the home and medical emergencies in the home but because of whatever kind of disability they may have they are going to have certain challenges that the general population that doesn’t have a disability has.  So, here are just helpful hints on what you can do if you do have a disability or know someone that has a disability for fire safety.  Fire sprinklers, everyone should know that sprinklers save lives.  If you are looking at an apartment or anything, if there are any available, ones that have sprinklers are always going to be safer by the nature of sprinklers, they’re proven life savers.  Smoke alarms, you should install smoke alarms in every sleeping room.  They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  Test those smoke alarms at least once a month by pushing the button.  If you can’t reach it, ask for someone to help you with that.  For added safety, interconnect the smoke alarms.  Interconnected smoke alarms are ones that when one goes off they all go off.  So, that may give you an extra few minutes to get out of your house in case of a fire.  The newest smoke alarms, like the ones we had out, have sealed long-life batteries and they should work for up to 10 years without having to worry about changing the batteries.  So, this is helpful if someone is elderly or can’t get up where it is mounted up high to change the battery.  So, these are helpful for people with disabilities.  All smoke alarms expire.  You should plan to replace them every 10 years.  If you are not sure, it is always better to air on the side of caution and go ahead and replace them.  We have smoke alarms available here at the Fire Station in Clayton, so we would be happy to help you out with that.  People who are deaf or hard of hearing may have trouble with a normal smoke alarm.  There are smoke alarms that are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Some of them have strobe lights that flash so that the lights warn of a possible fire.  They have smoke alarms that also can shake a bed or mount under a pillow so that you get a feel not just a noise itself of a smoke alarm.  We don’t currently have any of those here but those are available.  Escape planning, include everyone in your home escape plan.  Every person should have input about the best ways to escape.  Keep a phone by your bed in case you can’t escape and need to call for help.  Always know 2 ways out of every room.  It is important to find the 2 ways out of every room in the house in case one exit is blocked or it is dangerous to use.”  For more information about getting a smoke alarm, call the Rabun County Fire Department at 706-782-2751 or visit 14 Emergency Drive in Clayton.