Fire Safety for Children with Autism: “I know My Fire Safety Plan”


Children with autism may be less able to help themselves than other children in a fire emergency. It is difficult to predict how a child with autism will behave in a stressful situation. Advance preparation is critical. This fire safety social story – a short, personalized story that breaks down the important points into easy-to-follow steps – is designed for high functioning children with autism ages 6 to 9.

It can also be helpful to children with other developmental disabilities. It teaches children with autism spectrum disorder what to do if the smoke alarm sounds. Practice your fire safety plan with your children. Then read this story with them. The story is divided into sections. It can be read all at once or a little at a time depending on the requirements of the child.

Fire escape planning tips

  • Working smoke alarms save lives. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. For best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they will all sound.
  • There are two types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric. An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires. A photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms should be installed.
  • Make sure everyone knows what your smoke alarms sound like and can hear the sound of the smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Have a fire safety plan to get out of your home quickly.
  • Practice your plan with everyone in the home at least twice a year.
  • Practice and project a demeanor of calm during drills to help keep children calm.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible.
  • Windows or doors with security bars, grills, or window guards should have emergency release devices so they can be used for escape.
  • Choose a meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet once they’ve escaped.
  • Create a network of relatives, friends or neighbors to help your child if he or she needs additional help escaping or remaining at the meeting place.
  • Contact your local fire department. Many fire departments maintain registers of persons with disabilities so that they can be located quickly in an emergency.

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