Fire Escape Planning for Elderly & Disabled Family Members

October 17, 2022

Having a plan to help your elderly or disabled loved one(s) escape their home in the event of an emergency is a good idea. It’s easy to overlook since emergencies are few and far between but worth investing a small amount of time for a considerable payoff should the unexpected occur.

We’ve leaned on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for their best tips on a home fire escape plan, which can be applied to any household. The key is to plan for your abilities and the abilities of your family members. 


Fire Escape Planning

  • Create a clear, safe path out of your home – this may mean removing clutter in your bedrooms, hallways, stairways, and near windows and exit doors.
  • If you or your loved one uses a walker, scooter, cane, or wheelchair, keep it nearby at all times so it’s easy to access in an emergency. 
  • If you or your loved one wear glasses, keep those nearby. 
  • Keep a flashlight on the nightstand. 
  • For the deaf or hearing impaired, install a bedside alert (i.e. an alarm that shakes the bed) and/or visual alarm (i.e. strobe light) that sync with your smoke alarm.
  • For the blind or visually impaired, practice escaping with the alarm going off since the extra noise can be disorienting. 
  • If you or your loved one live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, work with the staff and local fire department to create an individualized fire escape plan. 
  • If you or your loved one are moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home, seek options that have automatic sprinkler systems. 
  • If making an escape isn’t possible, the NFPA recommends placing a towel or blanket at the bottom of your closed door and then standing near a window so the fire service or other authorities can get to you. If possible, call 911 to let them know you’re inside the home or building. 


Medical Alert Devices

In our experience, elderly and disabled folks either don’t use mobile phones or, if they do, they aren’t attached at the hip, minimizing their chances of having it nearby. Consider a medical alert device that can be worn at all times with different options to fit lifestyle needs including GPS-enabled devices, water resistance, and USB charging vs. battery power. 

They come with automatic fall detection, low battery service, and the option to wear a pendant or a wristwatch. 

At the push of a button, a trained, live operator will answer in a live-two-way conversation. If needed, they will contact family, friends, or neighbors (previously designated) on your behalf. These life-saving devices with 24/7 monitoring allow your loved ones to keep their independence longer. 


Please contact us for more ideas on how to stay safe in unique situations. We’re here for your safety!