USFA offers fire safety tips for people with disabilities

January 10, 2011

Washington – People with physical disabilities may be at an increased risk of death or injury in the event of a residential home fire, indicates a report (.pdf file) from the National Fire Protection Agency.

Between 2003 and 2006, physical disability was a contributing factor in an estimated 360 home fire deaths, or 13 percent of deaths overall.

Decreased mobility, health, sight and hearing likely increase the risk of fire injury and death among those with disabilities. To ensure safety, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends:

    • If you live in an apartment building, the ground floor nearest to the exit is the safest location.
    • Know at least two exits from every room. Plan your escape around your capabilities.
    • Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps or widening doorways.
    • Inform others – including your local fire department – of your special needs. Involve a building manager, family member or friend when practicing your fire escape plan.
    • Never use an elevator during a fire unless instructed by the fire department.
    • Install a smoke alarm with a vibrating pad or strobe light if you are hearing-impaired.
    • Keep a phone near your bed to call for assistance in the event of a fire.