Have you ever noticed on all elevators there is a little plaque that says, “In case of fire, take the stairs”?
It is Fire Prevention Week and this topic is one I never thought about until after the accident.
During our time in rehab, the therapists gave us a crash course on what to do in case of a fire. You will now start to notice on all elevators there is a little plaque that says, “In case of fire, take the stairs.” That’s right. They shut the elevators down and you have to take the stairs. Not helpful for someone who can’t take stairs. I’m talking about both Derek and Barkus- that dog couldn’t climb down a flight of stairs to save his life.
Now imagine this.
One week out of rehab, Derek and I had just moved into our accessible apartment which was on the third floor.
We’re trying to get used to our morning routine when the fire alarm goes off. I panic and run downstairs to find an apartment worker running like crazy saying the alarm isn’t a test and we need to get out of the building as soon as possible. I sprint up the 6 flights of stairs and pass a guy running down. I yell to him that we need help getting out of the building. He comes into our apartment where I am frantically trying to talk Derek into getting dressed faster so we can get out. About 30 seconds into my rant, the fire alarm stops.
Here’s my point. Fires are never planned, never expected, and certainly never welcomed. Disability or no disability, below are a few things you can do to keep your family safe. But the biggest one? Close before you doze!
Fire Safety Tips
40 years ago, you had 17 minutes to escape a home fire. Today? You have about 3 minutes. Due to synthetic materials, furniture and construction, fires spread faster.
UL FSRI found closing your doors can significantly slow fire spread, reduce toxic smoke levels, improve oxygen levels and decrease temperatures. This simple action can grant critical moments to escape in the event of a house fire.
If you have a disability, call your local fire station and make them aware. They will tag your address with a note letting first responders know.
Double check your fire alarms. When moving into Quarry, we upgraded to Nest Fire Alarms which allows us to check the alarms from our phones if we aren’t home. They also talk to you, telling you exactly where the smoke is. My mom finds it pretty hilarious when it says, “There’s a fire in the bedroom.”
Also, thank goodness for our 1 story house but if Derek was to ever find himself in a situation where he couldn’t use an elevator, he would have a few options:
1. Rely on the kindness and strength of others and hope they could carry him down the stairs.
2. Turn his wheelchair around, grab the handrails, and slowly proceed stair by stair.
3. First responders do have “sleds” which make it much easier to get someone down the stairs safely.
And remember, #closebeforeyoudoze.