Here, we’re talking about multi-resident housing and living centers for impaired elderly and children or those who have more than one impaired member in their families. In such cases, the question of fire safety is even more severe.
It’s a lot easier to assure safe passage for people in case of fire when the number of the caretakers is equal to the number of the disabled. It would also be great if there is at least a caretaker for every two patients.
“Everybody-out” and “protect-in-place” are two notions that any householder should be familiar with. The former represents the urgent expulsion of the disabled outside. The second refers to taking all the measures necessary in protecting them if getting out is not possible until the firefighters have reached the premises.
There’s no secret that it is much easier to ensure safety when more healthy people are involved in caring for those that are impaired. However, this does not annul the importance of frequent and detailed fire drills. If a fire occurs, everybody must know what to do, unless a chaos breaks loose. When you have to deal with people that are running in an unorderly fashion, that advantage of having more helping hands is rendered useless.
Caretakers face a lot of difficulties in getting all people to behave in the same manner in case of fire. At the same time, they must take into consideration the psychological implications. Anxiety is a real problem. There are people that can be susceptible to hyperventilation, as well as physical freezing in scenarios of extreme dangers. It goes without saying that caretakers should be prepared for such cases. They can be prevented through courses of fire safety education.
For instance, a pamphlet on fire safety released by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety from the UK advises:
“Those disabled people who require assisted evacuation should have a pre-arranged meeting place. If the disabled person is likely to move around the building, a communication process will be necessary between the appointed “buddy” and the disabled person so they can arrange to meet at a particular location.”
The “buddy” refers to a technique of evacuation that allocates a healthy helper for each impaired person. This way, a hearing impaired individual will be woken up and carried to safety by his buddy, a mobility impaired individual will be assisted by his buddy in the evacuation process and so on. Of course, this will not work unless proper fire safety education courses are given to the entire personnel of an institution for the disabled or the families that have disabled members.
The implementation of this method, however, does not reject installing fully-functional smoke detectors and fire alarms. Specialized ones may not be necessary if everyone is well-instructed. Still, in order for this to happen, caretakers must conduct well-thought training sessions and provide an extensive fire education program for all those they are taking care of. This, of course, applies to families, as well.
Until now, we’ve seen the importance of the human factor in this lengthy equation of fire safety, but as technology is always evolving, mobile phones can be equipped with applications that can facilitate the lives of the impaired. Although they are still few, the fact that they exist indicates that efforts are being made in creating applications that could potentially save lives. This is an incredibly comforting thought.
Let’s take a look at some of these apps one could use in emergency situations when no one is around to help.