Elderly Fire Safety
Tips, Risk Factors and More
Elderly fire safety is essential for ensuring your aging parents are safe. Are your loved ones protected?
Elderly are at most risk of being injured in a fire for a variety of reasons. They are more likely to have mobility issues impairing their ability to escape danger.
They may be on medication that impairs or slows their judgement and thus their need to escape. They are likely to live alone and have no one to call for help/assistance.
Research has also shown that elderly die in fires due to cooking accidents at home. Many seniors also die in home fires caused by electric heaters and wood stoves.
Older homes where seniors reside may also have faulty old wiring which can lead to electrical fires.
Elderly are more likely to be on a low fixed income and thus more likely to use dangerous space heaters, candles or cooking methods. They may also be unable to pay for necessary home repairs involving electrical problems.
Most Common Sources of Fire
The most common causes of fires for seniors:
- Kitchen fires - Caused by cooking accidents such as unattended (or forgotten) pots on the store
- Alternative heating - Using alternative heating methods is a main cause of fire. This includes kerosene or electric space heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces.
- Smoking - Not only is it bad for your health, it is also a main cause of fires.
- Electrical problems - Fires can be caused by overloaded outlets, old and worn appliances and faulty or old wiring.
Fire Safety Tips
Protect your seniors. Follow these elderly fire safety tips to ensure their homes are safe.
- Never leave stoves unattended - Usually many elderly get distracted and they forget that they have left a pan or pot on the stove.
- Be very careful using alternative heat sources - If you are using space heaters, make sure it is approved by Underwriter's Laboratory. You can figure this out with UL mark or tag on the heater.
- Be careful smoking - Seniors are more likely to fall asleep without putting out their cigarette. It is important to ensure that the ashtray is emptied out into a metal container so even if a cigarette is still lit, it will not cause a fire.
- Check smoke detectors - To be sure, change smoke detector batteries each year. A good idea is to change them in the fall when the clocks are turned back for Daylight Savings Time.
- Oxygen tanks and compressors - Make sure you have signs in place to inform people that there are oxygen tanks and compressors. This is valuable information for fire departments as they can be dangerous in a fire.
- Hand sanitizers - Hand sanitizers are sometimes flammable and can be a fire hazard it stored near heat.
- Dryers - Ensure your aging parents are properly emptying the dryer lint trap as this can be a fire hazard.
- Develop a fire emergency plan - This can literally save your parents life. Ensure they know what to do in an emergency and can get out in time. If they have difficulty walking, ensure they have an escape route that does not involve stairs or walking very far. Review with your parents regularly.
- Fire extinguishers - Have fire extinguishers in places where there is a hazard, such as the kitchen.
- Smoke detectors - If your seniors have hearing issues, make sure the smoke detectors is loud enough or replace with one that also flashes a light.
- Elderly medical alert - Consider an Elderly Medical Alert that they wear 24/7 and can push if help is needed. For seniors, it could be the difference between being safe and being injured.
- Electric cords - Make sure they are in good repair and used properly. They should not be under carpets or overloaded.
- Clutter-free - Ensure your seniors home is clutter free so that they can quickly and easily get out in case of emergency. This is also a good idea in general as clutter is a serious falls risk.
- Appliances - Ensure appliances are in good repair and properly maintained.
- Furnace - Ensure the furnace is in good repair and maintained properly.
- Flammable liquids - Ensure proper storage and removal of flammable products.
Safe Smoking Tips
If your aging parents smoke (and are not interested in quitting), these are some elderly fire safety tips to decrease their risk of starting a fire.
- Use large, deep ashtrays and never leave a lit cigarette in an ashtray.
- Check around seating area for smouldering cigarette butts before going out or to bed.
- Douse cigarettes in water before going out or to bed.
- Never smoke in bed or while laying down, especially if your medication makes you drowsy.
- Never allow smoking near oxygen tanks or concentrators
What To Do With A Burn
Burns can be caused by an open flamed source, hot surfaces or grease. They may be deeper than they appear and should be treated with medical attention.
If you or your loved ones are burned:
- Run burn under cool water
- Cover burn with a sterile pad or clean sheet
- Never apply ointment, grease or butter
- Seek medical attention immediately to prevent infection and inflammation.
If There Is A Fire
Elderly fire safety is not just about preventing fires but also what to do if one starts.
If there is a fire:
- Do not try to fight the fire yourself
- Get out and stay out.
- Close the door behind you.
- Call 911.
- If there is smoke, try to get low to the ground and cover your mouth.
- If you are trapped, close the doors between you and the fire. Call the fire department.
- Do not use the elevator.
If any part of your clothing is on fire:
- Do not run or try to put out with your hands
- Cover your face with your hands
- Drop to the ground and roll over and over.