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Special Populations
Special populations, such as kids with autism, deaf or hearing impaired persons, people with physical limitations, people with service animals,and senior citizens all have unique safety and escape planning requirements.

AUTISM

Children with autism may be less able to help themselves than other children in a fire emergency. It is difficult to predict how a child with autism will behave in a stressful situation. Advance preparation is critical. Please watch The Fire Safety Social Story (clink on RELATED LINK below) – a short, personalized story that breaks down the important points into easy-to-follow steps – is designed for high functioning children with autism ages 6 to 9. It can also be helpful to children with other developmental disabilities. It teaches children with autism spectrum disorder what to do if the smoke alarm sounds. Practice your fire safety plan with your children. Then read this story with them. The story is divided into sections. It can be read all at once or a little at a time depending on the requirements of the child.

FIRE ESCAPE PLANNING TIPS

• Working smoke alarms save lives. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they will all sound.
• There are two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires. A photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms should be installed.
• Make sure everyone knows what your smoke alarms sound like and can hear the sound of the smoke alarms.
• Test your smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
• Have a fire safety plan to get out of your home quickly.
• Practice your plan with everyone in the home at least twice a year.
• Practice and project a demeanor of calm during drills to help keep children calm.
• Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible.
• Windows or doors with security bars, grills, or window guards should have emergency release devices so they can be used for escape.
• Choose a meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet once they’ve escaped.
• Create a network of relatives, friends or neighbors to help your child if he or she needs additional help escaping or remaining at the meeting place.
• Contact your local fire department. Many fire departments maintain registers of persons with disabilities so that they can be located quickly in an emergency.

DEAF OR HEARING IMPAIRED PERSONS

Smoke alarms save lives. However, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to depend on the traditional smoke alarm to alert them to a fire. Please read the attached flyers for relevant safety tips.

PEOPLE WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES

Be sure to include everyone in planning and practicing home fire drills. People with disabilities can provide input on the best methods for them to escape.

SENIOR CITIZENS

It’s a fact that older adults, aged 65 and more, are 2.6 times more likely to die in a fire than the general population. On average, over 1,000 Americans (age 65 ) will die in a home structure fire, and approximately 2,000 are injured in fire-related incidences. However, you can retire fire by taking care of yourself and influencing others, such as your neighbors, friends and family, about fire safety. People can and have saved their own lives and the lives of others by following a few simple safety precautions.

• Prevent Smoking Fires - the leading cause of fire deaths in older Americans.
• Prevent Electrical Fires
• Prevent Home Heating Fires
• Prevent Kitchen Fires - the leading cause of fire injuries in older adults.
• Treating A Burn
• Clothing Fires
• Fire Escape Planning
• Know What to Do
• Smoke Alarm Maintenance
• Home Fire Safety Checklist

Please watch Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults (Click RELATED LINK below), developed by NFPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help older adults live safely at home for as long as possible. The program is built around 16 key safety messages – eight fire prevention and eight fall prevention.

SAFETY TIPS
To increase fire safety for older adults, NFPA offers the following guidelines:

Keep it Low - If you don't live in an apartment building, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor in order to make emergency escape easier. Make sure that smoke alarms are installed in every sleeping room and outside any sleeping areas. Have a telephone installed where you sleep in case of emergency. When looking for an apartment or high-rise home, look for one with an automatic sprinkler system. Sprinklers can extinguish a home fire in less time that it takes for the fire department to arrive.
Sound the alarm - The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping, and because smoke can put you into a deeper sleep rather than waking you, it´s important to have a mechanical early warning of a fire to ensure that you wake up. If anyone in your household is deaf or if your own hearing is diminished, consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light or vibration to alert you to a fire emergency.
Do the drill - Conduct your own, or participate in, regular fire drills to make sure you know what to do in the event of a home fire. If you or someone you live with cannot escape alone, designate a member of the household to assist, and decide on backups in case the designee isn't home. Fire drills are also a good opportunity to make sure that everyone is able to hear and respond to smoke alarms.
Open up - Make sure that you are able to open all doors and windows in your home. Locks and pins should open easily from inside. (Some apartment and high-rise buildings have windows designed not to open.) If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened easily. These devices won't compromise your safety, but they will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire. Check to be sure that windows haven't been sealed shut with paint or nailed shut; if they have, arrange for someone to break the seals all around your home or remove the nails.
Stay connected - Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers so that you can communicate with emergency personnel if you're trapped in your room by fire or smoke.

SERVICE ANIMALS

Every disaster plan should include pets and service animals. Please read the attached flyers for additional safety and preparation tips.


RELATED DOCUMENTS

Evacuation Guide for People with Disabilities
Family Fire Drills
Family Fire Drills (Spanish)

Fire Escape Planning (Spanish)
Fire Safety Facts for Seniors
Fire Safety Facts for Seniors (Spanish)
Home Fire Escape Checklist
How to Make a Home Fire Escape Plan
Pets and Service Animal Safety
Pets and Service Animal Safety (Spanish)
Disaster Prep for People with Disabilities
Disaster Prep for People with Disabilities (Spanish)
Disaster Prep for Seniors
Disaster Prep for Seniors (Spanish)
Senior Fire Safety
Senior Fire Safety (Spanish)
Smoke Alarms for the Deaf or Hearing Impaired
Smoking
Smoking (Spanish)
Smoking Safety
Emergency Supplies Checklist