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Posted on: February 1, 2024

Seniors and Fire Prevention

Seniors and Fire Prevention

Older adults are at higher risk of being injured or dying from a home fire. Decreased mobility, cognitive confusion, sight and hearing loss can affect your ability to respond quickly in an emergency.

Senior Safety Reviews has published 10 "Most Recommended" Fire Safety Tips for seniors that we would like to share with you.

1. Butt Out

Smoking is the #1 cause of fires that kill older adults. Never smoke in bed, and never smoke if there is an oxygen tank nearby. Instead, smoke outside to eliminate the risk of fire. Regardless, make sure you use deep and heavy ashtrays to avoid them from flipping or falling off a table by accident. Moreover, when putting out your cigarette, use water or sand to help snuff out any embers.

2. Space Heaters Need Space

Make sure space heaters are not too close to drapes, bedding, sofas, or clothing. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that your space heater be at least 3 feet from everything. Shut off AND unplug your space heater when you leave your home and go to bed. Never plug your space heater into an extension cord or power strip; plug them directly into the wall.

As an extra precaution, you can also get a space heater designed to turn off if it is tipped over.

3. Cook With Care

Most cooking fires happen when you fry food. If a pan or pot of food catches fire, keep a lid nearby and cover the pan. Wear short, rolled-up, or fitted sleeves when cooking to avoid accidentally catching fire. Don't leave the room when food is being cooked on the stove. Move things that can burn away from the stove.

4. Smoke Alarms

Did you know the chance of surviving a home fire almost doubles with a smoke alarm? They work.

It would help if you got a smoke alarm for every room, outside each bedroom, and on every level of your home. If you can, get a connected smoke alarm system so that if one goes off, they all go off. You should also test your smoke alarms monthly (press the test button). If hearing the alarm is problematic, you can get a strobe alarm or one that shakes your bed if it goes off. Lastly, if reacting to a smoke alarm is a problem due to poor hearing, vision, or immobility, consider getting a smoke alarm connected to a monitoring center if it gets triggered.

5. Get Fireplace & Wood Stoves Inspected Annually

Your fireplace or wood stove may need cleaning. Too much soot in your chimney can cause a fire, as can cracks in chimney bricks and rusting in stove pipes. Avoid burning green wood, garbage, or cardboard boxes in your fireplace, as they increase dangerous soot buildup in your chimney. Also, if you have fireplace glass doors, keep them open when making a fire.

6. Make a Getaway Plan

If a fire is too hard to control, get out. Create a fire escape plan and familiarize yourself with it. You should know the exits from your house or apartment and how to get out of your building. Ensure your designated escape door can be easily opened when rushed and visibility is poor. If you have difficulty maneuvering quickly or without help, consider getting one of the many dependable and reputable medical alert systems. Press the button if you have an emergency, and agents will immediately send help.

7. Learn How To Put Out A Fire on Your Clothing

If your clothes catch fire, you'll need to learn how to extinguish the fire. According to the CDC and the National Fire Prevention Association, stop (don't run), drop, and roll. Cover your face. Roll until the fire is out. If you cannot drop, use something like a blanket to put out the flames. Run cold water on your burn until emergency responders arrive.

8. Avoid Escape Proof Doors

If your loved one has issues with wandering due to Alzheimer's or dementia, do not create a complicated lock that will keep them from opening the front door. You could end up trapping them inside the house in the event of a fire. It is better to explore getting a GPS to track them if they wander or an alarm system that will alert you if they leave a designated perimeter.

9. Avoid Candles

Scented candles have grown in popularity; they smell delicious, and they can create a calm and soothing environment. Avoid any open flames in your home to the extent possible. Consider electric scented candles or electric candles as a safer alternative to the real thing.

10. Keep Fire Extinguishers Nearby

You should have at least one fire extinguisher near every fire hazard, whether in the kitchen, fireplace, wood stove, or furnace room. Make sure your fire extinguishers are complete and operational. Also, don't place the extinguishers too close to the hazard. For example, place an extinguisher in the kitchen, but far away from the stove, that way if your stovetop does catch fire, you'll be able to get the extinguisher without burning yourself.

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