There are many aspects to emergency planning that are frequently discussed, but one of the less considered of these aspects is the well-being and safety of those with special needs in times of disaster. Persons with disabilities are likely to be less able to respond quickly and effectively during a fire. For this reason, it is crucial that you make consideration of this well in advance.
- Check all of your smoke alarms to ensure that they work. Additionally, if you live in a multi-level home, you should make sure that alarms are installed on all levels. Each bedroom should have its own smoke alarm, and hallways should be equipped with alarms as well.
- Link your smoke alarms to one another. This way, when one sounds, they will all sound. (And make sure not to burn the pot roast, unless you have a particular fondness for the cacophony that will ensue.)
- Be sure to have both kinds of smoke alarms distributed throughout your home: photoelectric and ionization. The former is more sensitive when it comes to detecting smokey fires, whereas the latter is better at detecting flames. By having both kinds, you're sure to have your bases covered.
- Make sure your family is familiar with the sound of the smoke alarm so that they can identify it when the time comes.
- Have a fire emergency plan for getting out of the house as quickly and safely as possible. Be sure to build in the necessary considerations for those with special needs.
- Run drills of this plan at least every six months.
- Try to find, or make adaptations for, at least two means of escape for each room of your home.
- Let your neighbours know of the special needs your family member may have so that when they see your household in distress, they are able to respond with knowledge of the circumstances.
- Let your fire department know that you have a family member with special needs. Most fire departments collect this information so that they can better prepare to help families to whom this applies.