Guest Blog by the U.S. Fire Administration
Nearly 2,500 people die in home fires each year. Eighty-two percent of all fire deaths and 76 percent of all fire injuries in our country occur in the home – the very place we should feel most safe.
It is important to protect yourself and your loved ones by installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside sleeping areas. Traditional smoke alarms, however, do not always meet the needs of people with disabilities.
If you are hard-of-hearing, you may not respond to the traditional smoke alarm alert. This is because most hearing loss begins with high frequencies, the same frequencies that smoke alarms use. You may use hearing aids during the day, but when you remove them at night, you may be unable to hear the smoke alarm alert.
However, there are smoke alarms and alert devices, called accessories, available for people who are hard-of-hearing. When the smoke alarm is activated, strobe lights throughout the home are also activated to warn of smoke and possible fire. These same alarms also have pillow or bed shakers that will alert you while you are sleeping when the alarm has been activated.
You can purchase these alarms at your local home improvement store or on their websites. Just search for “strobe light smoke alarms.”
Remember, in the event of fire, every second counts! Everyone should make and practice a home escape plan. If you have decreased mobility or a visual or hearing impairment, talk with your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it.
- Arrange to have a first floor unit or bedroom if you live in an apartment building or multi-story home.
- Make sure that your house number is clearly visible from the street using numbers that are at least 4-inch high.
- Have at least two exits from every room and know how to open locked or barred doors and windows.
- Contact your local fire department. Most fire departments will provide a courtesy home inspection, review your escape plan, install smoke alarms and assist with locating a home safety modification service if it is needed.
- If you encounter smoke, stay near the ground or crawl low to exit. Once out, stay out and call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s house.
- If you are trapped in a room or do not feel that you can escape safely, close the door between you and the fire. Use a blanket or sheet to fill the gaps around the door to keep smoke out. Then, signal out the window using a blanket or sheet.
For more fire safety information, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website at www.usfa.fema.gov.