Fire Safety Tips for Seniors
”Knowledge is power” may be an old adage, but in the case of fire prevention for seniors, knowledge can be life-saving as well.
Older adults over the age of 65 are at greater risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries from a house fire. In fact, seniors represent 40% of all fire-related deaths in the U.S. Risk factors include decreased mobility, hearing or sight loss, mental impairments and limitations, and other age-related causes.
It’s critical for older adults and their families to know how to prevent potential fires and what to do if a fire erupts. The first step is to make your senior’s home safe.
Fire Prevention Recommendations for Seniors
The following are some basic safety tips you should follow to prevent fires in a senior’s home. Make sure your senior loved one has:
- An Escape Plan
Your loved one should know where the building’s exits are and practice navigating to a safe spot in the event of a fire. If possible, try to arrange for him or her to live on a ground floor or near an exit. If your loved one is hearing impaired or has other special needs, purchase a medical alert system, such as Visiting Angels’ Constant Companion, that he or she can activate to contact 9-1-1 during an emergency.
- A Path
If your loved one uses a wheelchair or walker, make sure doors are wide enough, and ramps are available so he or she can escape safely.
- Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers can be complicated to operate and eventually expire. Verify your loved one (and a caregiver) know how to use these safety devices, and keep them up to date.
- Smoke detectors
For those who have vision or hearing limitations, smoke detectors are available that produce low, audible tones; flashing lights; or even bed vibrations to alert individuals of smoke and fire.
Other fire safety tips for seniors and family caregivers include:
- Don’t leave stoves or ranges unattended
- Never use the range or oven to heat the home
- Avoid wearing loose clothing when using the stovetop
- Make sure all kitchen appliances are off before leaving the house or going to bed
- Have lids handy for grease fires
- Avoid smoking in bed
- Smoke outside and use heavy ashtrays filled with water or sand
- Avoid smoking near oxygen tanks, even if they are turned off
- Replace wires and cords that are frayed
- Don’t overuse electrical outlets
- Avoid candles (use battery-powered alternatives)