Fire Emergency Procedures for Special Needs Families

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Fire Emergency Procedures

Nothing will be more frightening than to face the rapid spread of a fire and not having your established fire emergency procedures can quickly become disastrous.  For a special needs family, this decision to act is even more critically important.  In fact, it will boggle your mind how fast a small fire can exponentially spread and rapidly pose a serious health threat.  Smoke filling a room can fill your lungs robbing you of oxygen.  The smoke will be laden with carbon monoxide and that can cause you to become drowsy.  Your loved ones could be falling asleep in a fire, poisoned by the carbon monoxide or other contaminants from burning materials.

Please, my friends, don’t let this one slip by unattended.  As you work on your fire emergency procedures the primary consideration is to have a plan for getting you and your family out of your home should a fire occur.  Kitchen fires are frequent causes of a house fire as we discussed in the post about fire safety.  But more alarming to me are the statistics substantiating that many fires occur during the night, while we are sleeping!

Here is a Red Cross Summary of Fire Emergency Issues

Fire Emergency Procedures

Does it surprise you, that in just two short minutes, if you haven’t gotten out of your home, you may not get out!   No wonder the fire service emphatically says install and maintain your smoke alarms.  Keep them up and running, testing them each month for their functionality and replace them every 10 years.  And …

…should an emergency occur…get out and stay out!

Seasonal Hazards Heighten Concerns

Just as a reminder,  while there could be many reasons for a fire to start, this time of year heightens the severity of unsafe electrical practices.   Like not keeping cords in good shape and overloading outlets, or feeding wires through doors and under rugs.  All of these fairly common practices are serious hazards.

This United States Fire Administration pdf document will help highlight these hazards so you can eliminate the risks:

What ARE the Steps to Follow

Smoke Alarms Are Critical to Safe Procedures

Properly maintained smoke alarms are life-saving equipment!

If you have done your homework, your first line of defense will be your functioning smoke alarm waking you up.  But there is not time to spare, the very next thing you must do is call 911 if your smoke alarm system doesn’t automatically call into the fire department.  And remember, get out!  Get out of your home, get you and your family out as quickly as you can using your well thought out fire emergency procedures.  Do you have a map of every room so that you know what your two routes of exit will be? If one exit is compromised determining your two exits will mean you can still get out.

But what if after you touch your door, it’s not hot to the touch (indicating no fire on the opposite side) and you hear cries from your child’s room.   NOW, your well thought out procedure will have to be implemented.  And NOW you will positively need to protect your lungs!  The fire may not have spread so that flames are preventing access to your child’s room but there is going to be smoke and allot of it.  On the floor and under the growing and lowering curtain of smoke you will have to crawl to your kids.  You do NOT want to be breathing the residue from the smoke as you go to help your children.  It can incapacitate you.  Protecting your lungs during this scary time will empower you to succeed in implementing your plan to get everyone to safety.  So, have you developed your fire emergency procedures?

Here are My Heartfelt Considerations for Your Fire Emergency Procedures

Remember as I stated in my previous fire safety blog, it’s a good idea to go visit your local fire department and engage them in evaluating your procedures.  They will have great suggestions for you and perhaps think of things you may not have considered.  Their phenomenal help ensures your success.

Fire Drills are Part of a well developed Fire Emergency Procedure

Fire Drills Will Exercise Your Plan and help to also identify where improvements should be made in that plan.

I sincerely hope you will embrace and act on the following:

  1. THINK YOUR PLAN THROUGH, get it on paper, and practice it.  Repetition … we all know that is the ‘mother of retention’ right?  Even more so with special needs children.
  2. Determine WHO WILL SERVE AS YOUR BACKUP PERSON to help your special needs child if you are unable to get to their bedroom. For instance, another family member in the front part of the house may have to get to our disabled child’s room.
  3. DEVELOP YOUR PROCEDURES around the following concerns:
    a. Is your child mobility impaired? If so what is your backup plan in a fire emergency?
    b. Will two people go their bedroom and do a fireman’s carry out of their room?
    c. Will one person go to the bedroom and one to their window to assist them in being lowered into someone’s loving arms?
    d. Have you secured a rescue ladder if you have two stories?
    e. Does everyone have an emergency whistle?  Are they trained to use it and practice it during a drill?
    f. What if there is smoke?  Will you provide a smoke mask for them to ensure there is a cushion of time to ensure they can be rescued?
    g. What if they are unconscious?
    h. What about their oxygen?

    Smoke masks filter out life-threatening contaminants like corbon monoxide

    Xcaper Mask from Xcaper Industries.  This mask with its aloe vera based filter is a no brainer purchase for your home emergency kit!

4. GET YOURSELF A SMOKE MASK.  If you have time to get to your child’s bedroom because you are sure they haven’t yet escaped (i.e. they are using their rescue whistle or maybe crying for help), you don’t want smoke on your way there to become a barrier to your successfully getting to your special needs child.

Concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) can be so great that it can rapidly overcome you!   You will feel sleepy, the CO is not allowing your body to have access to oxygen.  The fact is you will be poisoned if you aren’t protecting your lungs.  A properly designed and fitting mask or hood will make the difference to your success or, I dare say, potential failure.  Make sure to also provide a smoke mask to your alternate rescuer.  Consider getting one for your disabled child and teaching them how to use it, too!

  We all know that failure is NOT an option here!

Protect Your Lungs

In doing my research, this is the mask, the Xcaper, that I have determined is worth my investment.  Please remember that as a former health and safety professional I am intimately familiar with respirators.  I have done training in years gone by with firefighters in respiratory protection, once even providing a class to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA.  I do know what I am talking about and hope that you will trust my recommendations because of the experience I have in this field.

Also, the firefighter in this You Tube is explaining the features of this specific mask.  The test run involving a smoke-filled room is a good demonstration of the Xcaper mask’s abilities and is very compelling.

See the specific product review of  this mask in this post.

What Will You Do?  The Steps Are Not Difficult and the Cost Not Prohibitive!

So, you can see that there is an urgent need for us to develop our fire emergency procedures!  To not do so just doesn’t make any sense at all.  We may have a number of things that will need to be cued up in order to correctly and safely respond should a fire ever occur in our home.  But we have to be quick on our feet with the possibility that in 2 minutes our window for escape could close.  So a plan is very important and our child’s and families specific needs must be captured in the procedures we develop.

What will you do? Are you going to use the plan template I recommended in my last blog?  Will you go to your local firehouse and review the plan with the firefighters there?  Are you going to help them to understand your very special person’s needs?


Your Comment Will Benefit Us All

Drop Us a Comment! Or Share Your Story. We Will All Benefit From Your Generosity.



Please let me know how I can help?  You can Contact Me Here.

And share with us how your plan is fleshing out in the comment section below.

8 Responses to “Fire Emergency Procedures for Special Needs Families

  • Hi Linda,

    Very interesting and helpful article, I really enjoyed reading it as my house is situated on a mountain just a few meter from the wood. I always thought that it could be very dangerous, especially in the summer. I think we have the minimum equipment, and we need to do something about it and quick! The problem is that we always think that it won’t happen to us, but hopefully, there are people like you to give us helpful suggestions and to remind us it could happen to anyone!

    Thank you very much

    • Linda

      Hello, Daniella!

      Yes, finding ways to ensure you and your family are prepared AND that you have a plan that you can exercise together for practice is very important. I have some recommendations on fire safety in this post that could also support your efforts.

      If you have a special needs youth in your life, this becomes even more critical, AND necessary. Let me know if you found this helpful and if there is anything else that you might find helpful as a subject I can research for you or a question I can answer.

      Kind regards,


  • What a wealth of useful information you have provided. I found your post most helpful in realising the implications of facing a life threatening fire.

    We don’t have any special needs children or partners but everything you have suggested can only be good for the average household.

    I live in Europe so I am not sure that the Xcaper you mention is available here. Can you suggest an alternative that is in common use in the European market? Your help will be most appreciated.

    • Linda

      Thank you very much for your feedback. It is good to hear that you some valuable information in my post. Fire safety can be a “life threatening” situation. Folks working in the fire industry are passionate about this subject as having to do reconnaissance to save, or more sadly recover, the lives lost in fires. It can sometimes be such heartbreaking work.

      I will contact the Xcaper folks. I know this product can be purchased online through Amazon but shipping from the US could be cost prohibitive. I believe there is a resource in Europe, but I will need to drill down on this. I will get back with you but I believe it won’t be until early next that I get an answer.

      In the meantime, please let me know if there is anything else I can do.

      Kind regards,


  • Hi Linda. This is very informative and useful. Just the thought of it already scares me. Glad I found your site. Planning ahead is the key source to survive in this kind of emergency. The smoke mask is also a must. Do you think, companies should have this kind of smoke mask as well? Considering that earth is suffering from global warming, this unexpected fire can somehow happens.

    • Linda

      Planning makes all the difference AND takes the fear out of a possible event. Knowing what and how you will handle things is powerful and a great incentive to complete one’s plan. Of course I agree with you that a smoke mask is a must. Xcaper industries the company that develops and makes the mask I am recommending actually has several companies who have chosen to make this mask available to employees in their facilities. It’s good business to protect the folks who keep one’s ;business alive.

      Glad you found me and hope that you will come back now and again to see what else surfaces as I do research.


  • Hi Linda. Such detailed information. you have really done your research. Planning ahead for events like this can only be a good thing but unfortunately people don’t. Not because they are lazy but because nobody like to imagine these types of thing happening to them and just thinking about it could almost will it to happen. Nonsense I know but we like to live in our safe bubbles rather than face the possibility of things going wrong. I have a website all about autism and its written by me but thought my brothers point of view. I imagined what he would think about your post and the thought that came to mind was simplicity. The more comprehensive your advice and guidance can be the more people it will reach. Have you thought about writing a shorter version with all the most important advice in one very visual easy to read post? People can them choose to read your more informative post if they have time. Just an idea 🙂 My brothers website is defining autism dot com. Please take a look. I should like to link to a post maybe? 🙂 Mark

    • Linda

      Hello Mark,

      I very much appreciate your comment and observations, especially how people in general like to live in their safe bubbles. I look forward to looking into your website about autism and seeing how you are handling it form your brother’s point of view. I will certainly take your recommendation into consideration, about creating a shorter version.

      I have been out of the loop for about 4 months now with pressing family needs. Even still the work I have done here is important to me and will be getting back into the saddle as soon as I can. I have also been feverishly working on the subject of vaccination safety and generally chasing my tail feathers. I hope we can connect, hopefully sooner than later to talk about possibly sharing a link to one another’s work. We shall see.


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