Top Safety Concerns for People With Developmental Disabilities: Fire and Cooking

Read Part 1: How Can People With Disabilities Be Safe While Living Independently?

Recently Prevention 1st convened Safe at Home: Effective Safety Training for People with Intellectual Disabilities Living Independently. Co-sponsored with the NYS Office of People With Developmental Disabilities and Monroe Community College, this community conference drew more than 100 attendees including people with disabilities, caregivers, and staff members and volunteers from community agencies, fire departments, and schools.

We asked attendees to rank the importance of 10 commonly mentioned safety concerns and to feel free to add in others. From the final list of 28 topics, fire safety was ranked the number one concern and kitchen/cooking safety was ranked number two. They’re right to be concerned: the US Fire Administration reports that cooking is the leading cause of home fires, causing 49% of such fires.

This response, combined with the statistics on safety risks for people with developmental disabilities and the concerns we had already collected from potential recipients of our proposed safety training, makes it clear that fire safety, including cooking safety, is our highest training development priority.

Encouraged by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) Prevention 1st is developing an evaluated curriculum for teaching fire safety and injury prevention skills to people with intellectual disabilities (ID) who live independently.

Many local agencies and families are also eagerly awaiting an effective, evidence-based program to improve the safety of people with intellectual disabilities living independently.

Thanks to grants from the Developmental Disabilities Giving Circle of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Jane L. and Laurence C. Glazer Charitable Trust,  focus groups were held and a pilot program of in-home training sessions is underway with 30 individuals with intellectual disabilities who are new to independent living.

We’ll keep you updated on how Prevention 1st and Community Health Strategies are working together to develop that training. If you’re not already on the mailing list for our newsletter Prevention 1st on the 1st, sign up now to be notified when articles appear.