The Shepherd Center, in conjunction with the Loganville Fire Department, launched RESCUE, a community service program providing home alert labels and education for people with physical and or cognitive limitations who find themselves in emergency situations. The mission is to aide in quicker response times and creation of better emergency plans.
To request a RESCUE sticker and informational material, please contact The Loganville Fire Department at 770-554-9693
Why is this important?
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “People with mobility impairments represent a segment of the population with one of the highest risks of dying in a fire.” Based on recent U.S. Census Bureau information, this represents about 21.2 million Americans.
“According to incident reports filed by local fire departments, physical disability was a factor in an average of 380, or 14%, of home fire deaths per year between 2004 and 2008.”
National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division
“…Only 47% of people with disabilities have developed plans to evacuate their homes in the event of a disaster and only 54% knew who to contact about emergency plans in their community.”
The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine
The following fire safety tips are designed specifically for people with mobility and or cognitive impairments, and are meant to encourage you and your caregivers to think about your safety in the event of a fire.
How will you know there is a fire?
When you have mobility or cognitive impairment it becomes even more important to be aware of a fire as soon as possible. The sooner you know, the more time you have to react.
· Make sure smoke alarms are installed in your home and work area, and be sure to test them at least once a month and change the batteries twice a year. This simple technique can reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 60 percent. Detailed information about smoke alarms can be found at www.nfpa.dhs.gov.
How will you get help?
- Keep an accessible phone with you at all times, even at night.
- Consider a home fire alarm system that can provide monitoring and alert your local fire department immediately if the alarms are activated.
- Be sure that your address is easily visible from the street so that first responders can find you quickly.
- Make sure your wheelchair or mobility device is always within reach for a transfer when you are not using it, for example when you’re in bed or sitting on a couch.
- Visit your local fire department three days in a row. This will ensure that you meet all the personnel, regardless of which shift they work.
- Ask them to add you into their database so that if you call with an emergency the information about your disability will be on file!
- Give them a copy of your escape plan, and find out if they have any suggestions for your plan.
- Offer to teach the firefighters about your wheelchair or mobility device.
- If you use a manual wheelchair, show the firefighters which parts are removable. This will help them know whether it is sturdy enough if they want to carry you in your chair.
- If you use a power wheelchair, show the firefighters how to put your wheelchair into and out of gear. You may even want to put brightly colored tape on your “brakes” to make them easier to identify in the event of an emergency.
- Explain to firefighters what you are, and are not, capable of physically and/or cognitively.
- Explain to the firefighters if symptoms of your disability could be confused with alcohol or drug intoxication (slurred speech, unsteady gait, dizziness, confusion).
- Have your caregivers educate the firefighters if you have any communication difficulties.
- Answer any questions the firefighters may have for you.
National Fire Protection www.nfpa.org/disabilities
A detailed Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist can be found at this website.
United States Fire Administration www.usfa.dhs.gov
This organization will mail complimentary pamphlets including “Fire Risks for the Mobility Impaired” and “Protecting Your Family from Fire.”
National Fire Protection Association www.nfpa.org
You can find a copy of the “Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist.”
United Spinal Association www.spinalcord.org/pdf/Wheel chairFireSafety.pdf
Download a free brochure about fire safety for wheelchair users at work and at home.
American Red Cross www.redcross.org/services/disaster/beprepared/disability.html
There is currently no research to support an increased risk of crime with the presence of this sticker.
(Contributed by the Loganville Fire Department)