NFPA: People who are hard of hearing may benefit from specialized alert devices. To alert people who are hard of hearing of a possible fire when they are awake, there are strobe lights that flash when the smoke alarm sounds. When people who are hard of hearing are asleep, a loud, mixed, low-pitched sound alert device should be used to wake them. They may find a pillow or bed shaker that is also helpful.
Home fire sprinklers should be considered by anyone who may need more time to escape a fire.
Does the NFPA recommend the use of medical/emergency alerts for seniors and those who are hard of hearing when a disaster such as a fire occurs?
NFPA: Each needs to plan around their abilities in case a fire occurs. A medical alert system can be a useful and reassuring tool for both the older adult and for family members who cannot be with the older adult’s loved one.
The NFPA has hundreds of helpful codes and standards built to minimize fire risk in buildings. Are there any specific codes/standards the NFPA has that pertain specifically to buildings that contain people who are hard of hearing?
NFPA: Yes, three. NFPA 101® Life Safety Code®, Chapter 9, specifically section 9.6 deals with Fire detection, Alarm, and Communications Systems and specific requirements so that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can access emergency notifications.
In addition, NFPA 5000® Building Construction and Safety Code® has extensive requirements in Chapter 12, Accessibility which combines the requirements of ANSI/ICC A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, 2010 DOJ ADA Standards, and the HUD Fair Housing Guidelines and covers all disabilities not just those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Finally, NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code covers visual alarms in Chapter 18, section 18.5 through 18.9 on Visible Signaling.
Do you have any resources you would recommend or point people towards that specifically focus on fire protection and safety for those who are hard of hearing?
NFPA: NFPA offers a variety of resources for people who are hard of hearing. We offer safety tips sheets on many fire safety topics and in many languages, including the “Smoke Alarms for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” and the “Fire Safety for People with Disabilities” tip sheet. Many of our video resources including the Dan Doofus fire safety videos are available in open captions for those who have a hard time hearing the content.
Is there any other helpful information you’d like to share on fire safety for seniors, those hard of hearing, or home fire safety in general?
NFPA: All individual needs to get involved in their home safety. Many fire risks can be reduced with small behavior changes. The NFPA Remembering When the program is a fire and fall prevention program targeted toward older adults. The free program is available online at www.nfpa.org/rememberingwhen. The program is based on 8 fire and 8 fall prevention messages to help older adults make small changes that have a big impact on their home safety status. Messages around smoking, cooking, and the use of space heaters are examples of behaviors addressed in the program.
Knowing that fire safety at home is extremely important, are there any other general home security guidelines or tips that you promote at the NFPA?
NFPA: We offer safety information on a wide range of fire prevention topics ranging from everyday prevention topics such as safe cooking, smoking, and home heating to less common ones such as fire safety related to hoverboards, and 9-volt batteries, and CFL lightbulbs. All the safety information can be found online at www.nfpa.org/safety-information.