People with disabilities

It’s our mission to make sure that everyone in Tyne and Wear is safe from fire.

As well as following our advice for preventing fire at home, people with sensory impairments or disabilities may need to take extra precautions.

Hearing difficulties

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can get a smoke alarm which uses a strobe light and vibrating pads.

In the event of a fire, ask a neighbour to call 999 if it’s difficult for you to do it yourself.

If you have specialist equipment, such as a text phone or mini-com, you can contact the emergency services on 18000.

We have produced a video on home safety presented in British Sign Language (BSL):

This video is available on DVD. If you’d like a copy for a friend or relative who is deaf or hard of hearing, email our Prevention and Education Team.

Sight difficulties

If you struggle to see your smoke alarm to test it, putting a coloured sticker on it can help.

Check electrical leads regularly by touch. If they’re frayed or faulty, don’t plug them in or switch them on.

If electrics are giving off a burning smell, turn them off and unplug them immediately.

Mobility difficulties

If it’s hard to test your smoke alarm, ask somebody to do it for you.

If you have trouble moving around, consider fitting an intercom that you could use to alert someone else in the house in the event of an emergency.

Make sure you always have easy access to any mobility aids you may need, such as a walking stick.

Access to 999

There are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who are unable to call 999 because of a hearing or speech loss.

If you or someone you care for can’t use voice telephony, there are other ways to contact the emergency services.

Text Relay

Text Relay is a service provided by BT that enables deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people who use textphones to make and receive calls.

It’s funded by the UK Communications Providers with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People managing the relay assistants who provide the voice to text translation.

Users can contact the emergency services by dialling 18000. This call will be connected to 999 and translated by a Text Relay Assistant.

Find out more about textphones and Text Relay.

National Emergency SMS Service

The National Emergency SMS Service (ESMS) is an ‘add on’ to the existing 18000 service.

It’s a national scheme that allows anyone to send a text to 999 from their mobile phone, which gets converted into a call to the emergency services.

Registration only takes a couple of minutes. Text ‘register’ to 999 then follow the instructions received.

Find out more about ESMS.