FIRE SAFETY ADVICE FOR DISABLED PEOPLE

GET A SMOKE ALARM

A smoke alarm can give you those precious few minutes of warning which could help you and your family to get out safely.
Smoke alarms cost from around 5 and are simple to fit. They are widely avaiable from DIY, hardware and electrical shops and some supermarkets. Choose an alarm which meets British Standard BS 5446 Part 1 and carries the kitemark.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to fit and position the alarm. Local voluntary organisations may be able fo fit the alarm for you. The instructions will also give you guidance on battery replacement and maintenance.

Smoke alarms for people with hearing impairment

Many people whose hearing is not severely impaired are still able to hear a conventional smoke alarm. It is a good idea to link two or more alarms. This way smoke detected in the living room will set off another alarm in the bedroom. An electrician will be able to advise you about linking the alarms.
For people who would not be able to hear a conventional smoke alarm there are special devices available which make use of a vibrating pad or flashing light instead of the auditory signal. The vibrating pad alarms are particularly useful for deaf-blind people.
A list of suppliers is given at the end of the page. Further information is available from the royal Institution for the Deaf who are also listed at the end of this page.

PLANNING YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE

If a fire occurs in your home you may have to get out in dark and difficult conditions. Escaping from a fire will be a lot easier if you have already planned your escape route and know where to go.

  • Make sure that your planned escape route is free of any obstructions and that there are no loose floor coverings that could trip you.
  • If you have serious mobility difficulties you may wish to consider having your bedroom on the ground floor, if this is practical, and as near as possible to an exit.
  • If you would need assistance to make your escape, it is vital that you have some means of summoning help by your bed, i.e. a buzzer, intercom or telephone. there are also systems available which will automatically dial out on your telephone line to summon help or send a signal to a manned control room.
  • Details of the many emergency call/alarm systems available can be obtained from the Disabled Living Foundation who produce a booklet on the subject.

WHAT TO DO IF A FIRE STARTS

If you can do so, close the door of the room where the fire has started and close all other doors behind you. This will help delay the spread of fire and smoke.

  • Before opening a closed door, use the back of your hand to touch it. Do not open it if it feels warm - the fire will be on the other side.
  • Get everyone out as quickly as possible. Don't try to pick up valuables or possessions. Make your way out as safely as possible and try not to panic.
  • Get everyone out as quickly as possible. Do not try to pick up valuables or possessions. Make your way out as safely as you can and try not to panic. It will help if you plan your escape route now. Don't wait until a fire starts.
  • Telephone the FIRE BRIGADE on 999 from a neighbour's house or the nearest telephone box. Clearly state the address of the fire.
  • Never go back into your home until a fire officer has told you it is safe to do so.

BEDTIME ROUTINE

Many fires in the home start at night. Make sure you have a bedtime fire safety routine to help keep you and your family safe.
  • Unplug all electrical appliances not designed to stay on. There are specially designed plugs available which can be very easily inserted and removed. Details of these devices are available from the Disable Living Foundation.
  • Make sure no cigarettes are still burning.
  • Before emptying ashtrays make sure that the contents are cold.
  • Put a guard around open fires.
  • Switch off portable heaters.
  • Close the doors of unoccupied rooms.

USEFUL ADDRESSES

DISABLED LIVING FOUNDATION, 380-384 HARROW ROAD, LONDON, W9 2HU

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND of the UK, UNITY HOUSE, SMYTH STREET, WESTGATE, WAKEFIELD, WEST YORKSHIRE, WF1 1ER

ROYAL ASSOCIATION for DISABLILITY and REHABILITATION, 25 MORTIMER STREET, LONDON, W1N 8AB

ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE for the BLIND, 224 GREAT PORTLAND STREET, LONDON, W1N 6AA

ROYAL NATIONAL INSTITUTE for the DEAF, 105 GOWER STREET, LONDON, WC1E 6AH

You may find it useful to contact local voluntary organisations or the Social Services Department. They may be able to offer advice and assistance on products specially designed to help people with disabilities.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND ADVICE ON FIRE SAFETY IN YOUR HOME CONTACT YOUR LOCAL FIRE SERVICE