Fire prevention is a top concern for most seniors, and for good reason: the U.S. Fire Administration reports that older adults made up 40 percent of fire-related deaths. While decreased mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive functioning may all be factors in that statistic, there are several steps people of all ages should take for fire prevention in their homes.
The National Fire Prevention Association says that most fire-related casualties happen when people are sleeping. Make sure you have a working smoke detector on each level of your home, and outside each bedroom. The good news is that smoke alarms have evolved; you can purchase ones that vibrate your bed or send strobe lights, and they can also be connected to an emergency response center. Choose the one that is best for your needs. It’s also important that your smoke detector is in working order. Check them once a month, and proactively change the batteries every six months when you change your clocks.
Stop, Drop, & Roll!
When you were a child, you were likely taught the basic fire prevention tip to stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch fire. This still applies as an adult! While our instinct may be to run, the best thing to do if our clothes catch on fire is to cover our faces and follow those 3 simple steps. If you are unable to do this, use a blanket to smother the flames. If you burn your skin, call emergency services and run it under cold water until help arrives.
Practice may save lives! While you may not need to have monthly fire drills, you and your family should always have a plan of escape, and you should talk about it regularly. If someone is in a wheelchair or has limited mobility, designate a family member to assist that person in case of fire. Know where the closest exit is, as well as the second closest exit, in case the first is blocked. Make sure all of your windows can be opened (you may have some sealed shut with paint), and that you have a phone or other emergency notification device near all areas in the house to alert emergency responders. Make sure everyone in the home is comfortable using a phone. (You can look here for information on seniors and Smartphones).
These are just a few steps toward fire prevention. The National Fire Prevention Association has a great program: Remembering When. This fire and fall prevention program is designed specifically for older adults and can be used in safety training.