Approximately 4,000 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires each year. The risk of death or injury from fire is even greater for people with physical, mental or sensory disabilities.
Many of these deaths are the result of failed emergency escapes, and might have been prevented through planning and preparedness.
The Los Angeles Fire Department encourages people with disabilities, their caregivers and all Americans to learn about special precautions that can protect those with special needs.
People with disabilities - and those around them, must always be mindful of physical and other limitations that can impair quick and appropriate action in an emergency.
Those living with disabilities should be aware of the special fire and other danger warning devices that are available to meet their unique needs. For example, smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the deaf or hard of hearing.
While the warning features of smoke alarms may be specific to individual needs, the placement of these devices - at a minimum, echo those suggested for every household:
Have a properly functioning smoke alarm in every sleeping room -and- in the hallway directly adjacent to those rooms. If sleeping rooms are on an upper level, a smoke alarm should also be installed in the center of the ceiling directly above the interior stairway. It's best to have smoke alarms on every level of a home.
Make sure your smoke alarms are tested monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
Though people with disabilities have the right to live where they please, firefighters suggest they may be safest living on the ground floor with one of more exitways specially designed to meet their everyday and emergency needs.
If a walker or wheelchair is used, every exit should be checked for possible impairments to safe and swift egress.
Be sure to include people with disabilities in fire safety drills and fire safety planning. Keep telephones convenient for disabled persons, so they can call 9-1-1 to coordinate appropriate help from responding firefighters. To learn more, visit:
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department