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Provided by Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities:A joint project of Oklahoma ABLE Tech & Fire Protection Publications at Oklahoma State University
Research shows that people with disabilities have a higher risk for being injured or killed in a fire. So, this guide will help you:
You need at least one smoke alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home. The most dangerous fires occur when you are sleeping. The smoke alarm should detect the smoke before it reaches your sleeping area and wake you up.
Figure 1: A smoke alarm for people who are deaf.
Test the Alarm Every Month
You need to test your smoke alarm every month. Place a reminder on your calendar on a consistent day. Get in the habit of checking your smoke alarm every month. Unless your alarm has working batteries, it won’t work, and it won’t save your life.
To test the alarm, push the test button on the smoke alarm for 20 seconds. Look to make sure the strobe light is flashing and the bed shaker is moving.
Consider marking your calendar or your text messenger (such as Sidekick) to alert you to the monthly testing schedule.
Change the Batteries Every Year
Change both batteries once a year. Change them in the fall when you set your clocks back. If your alarm begins to chirp and there is no fire, you need to change both batteries.
Change the Alarm Every 10 Years
Smoke alarms are good for 10 years. After 10 years, you must buy and install a new smoke alarm. Place a label on the alarm. Write the date the alarm was installed on the label. Make sure the label does not cover any vents on the smoke alarm.
Know Your Smoke Alarm
Your smoke alarm has three parts. The parts work together. The three parts are a smoke alarm, a bed shaker, and a strobe light. The smoke alarm is outside your sleeping area. It detects the smoke. It sends a signal to the strobe light and the bed shaker. The strobe light flashes, and the bed shaker moves to wake you up.
If you have multiple sleeping areas, all of the alarms use the same signal. If any of the alarms detects smoke, then all of the strobe lights will flash, and all of the bed shakers will move.
Danger! The strobe light must be next to your bed. The strobe light will not wake you up if it is not close to your bed.
Consider a Fire Sprinkler System
Home fire sprinkler systems give you the best level of safety. The system triggers quickly and puts out the fire before it can spread. Also, the system puts out the fire before anyone in the home can be affected by inhaling toxic smoke, which is the number one cause of deaths in a fire.
For more information, go to www.homefiresprinkler.org or call 1-888-635-7222.
What is a Home Escape Plan?
A home escape plan is your way out of your home if you have a fire. After you plan your escape, all family members should practice the escape plan every six months. The more you practice your escape plan, the more prepared you will be to take action in an emergency.
Figure 2: A family makes a home escape plan.
How Do I Create a Home Escape Plan?
1. Draw a floor plan of your home on a large sheet of paper or use grid paper.
2. Check to make sure you have included every door and window that you can use as an exit.
3. Draw all outdoor features or possible obstacles that might keep you from escaping through windows and doors.
4. Draw arrows in red to show the best way out of each room.
5. Draw arrows in blue to show the second way out of each room.
6. Choose a meeting place in front of your home and mark it on the escape plan.
7. Practice the escape plan using the best way out of your sleeping area.
8. Practice the second way out of your sleeping area.
Note: Know both ways out, so you can escape. Make sure that everyone in your family can follow both ways out.
9. Arrange to call 911 or your local emergency number from a neighbor’s house.
10. Update the plan as needed.
What Other Things Should I Do?
1. Include your children in your escape plan. Make sure you and your children know how to get out.
2. Clear all escape routes. Remove all items from halls, any doors and windows, and sleeping areas.
3. Make sure that your house number is clearly visible from the street. Consider painting your house number on the street curb. If you live in an apartment, your landlord should ensure the apartment number is visible from the parking lot and that all building numbers are visible from a distance.
4. Practice the escape plan every six months. Include your children. Make certain all family members know how to get out.
5. GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Never go back in your home for any reason—not for pets, medication, or anything.
You and your family must practice your escape plan before the emergency. Once the alarm flashes, shakes and sounds, you only have a few minutes to escape, so you must be prepared. The more you plan and practice, the more prepared you will be in an emergency.
Find Two Exits from Each Room
Know all doors and windows that lead to the outside. Make sure all family members, even children, can open them easily. If you have any security bars on the windows, make sure they have an emergency release and everyone can open the bars quickly. If you have a multi-level home, consider sleeping on the ground level. Get an escape ladder for bedrooms on the second floor. Make sure that the ladder fits the window.
Choose a Meeting Place Outside
Choose a meeting place in front of your home.
Practice Your Escape Plan
Practice your escape plan regularly. For sleeping areas on the second floor, practice setting up the ladder. But do not climb down the ladder. Climb down the ladder only in emergency situations.
If you have a service animal, practice your escape plan with your animal. Train your animal how to respond to the alarm when you test it every month. However, because you test it every month, your animal may become accustomed to the sound. So, it is important for the animal to realize that the alarm means danger and the animal should alert you.
You should also practice your escape plan without your service animal. If the animal is trapped inside your home, tell the firefighters when they arrive.
In a Fire
Escape must be immediate. Do not wait to be rescued. If there are closed doors between you and the exit to the outside (such as a closed bedroom door), you should feel the door or the doorknob with the back of your hand for heat (see Figure 3). If it is hot, do not open it. Use your second way out.
Figure 3: Feel the door with the back of your hand.
If the door does not feel hot, open it with caution. There still may be smoke and heat on the other side. If you open the door and find smoke or heat, close the door, and use your second way out. If the path to the outside is clear of smoke, or if you can crawl under the smoke, move quickly to the exit (see Figure 4).
Modify Your Plans
You are the expert on your own abilities and needs. You must plan how to give instructions to emergency responders when they come. Instructions should be quick and to the point. You will only have time to relay the most important information.
Call the fire department using a non-emergency number before an emergency. They may be able to store information about your needs. For example, you can tell them that your house has one person who is deaf in the back bedroom on the first floor.
Remember that you will contact 911 or your local emergency number from a neighbor’s house. Practice communicating with your neighbors about an emergency. Include this step when you practice your escape plan.
Prepare to Cook
While You Cook
If There is a Fire
1. You are the expert on your abilities and needs. If you know what to do in a fire, you can lower your risk.
2. Install a smoke alarm in your home. Test it every month. Change it every 10 years.
3. Practice your escape plan every six months. Make changes as needed. Put it where you can see it.
4. Be safe around the house. Avoid home fire dangers.
Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities is funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Fire Administration Fire Prevention and Safety Assistance to Firefighters Grant
For More Information Oklahoma ABLE Tech 1-888-885-5588 (V/TDD) or 405-744-9748 http://okabletech.okstate.edu Fire Protection Publications 1-800-654-4055 http://www.ifsta.org Located at Oklahoma State University.