Keeping children with special needs safe during an emergency

Published: Jan. 24, 2015 at 3:55 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2015 at 4:20 AM EST
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(WTVM) - A community is in mourning after a fire claimed the lives of twin 12-year-old boys with autism in Tifton, Ga.

The fatal fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Friday while the family of four was asleep inside, gutting the entire house.

The mother, 44-year-old Tangerla Walker, and her 15-year-old daughter made it out alive, even pulling the twin boys onto the front porch, but they didn't survive.

One neighbor says she has known the mother almost all of her life and says the community needs to come together.

"I hope that her community and her neighbors will come together and support her in her loss and pray for her," said Betty Hendley. "That's why I come 'round here; to see where she's at, how I can communicate with her."

Fire officials are still trying to figure exactly what happened but do know the home didn't have smoke detectors.

An arson investigator with the state fire marshal's office has been called to help with the investigation, but so far foul play is not suspected.

So what can you do to try and keep your child safe? We spoke to the Autism Hope Center who says every situation is different.

gives a list of safety tips for children with autism who may wander, including installing deadbolt locks with keys on both sides, invest in an alarm system, teach your child to swim, and consider a personal tracking device or medical I.D. bracelet.

The Autism Hope Center will host their monthly support group meeting with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Department focusing on lifesaving bracelets with a tracking device inside.

For more details you can meet them at Columbus Regional on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

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