Fire safety is an important consideration for every home, however, it’s especially important for seniors, who are more than twice as likely to be killed or injured by a fire than the general population. Here are some staggering statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration:
- In 2015, older adults made up 12 percent of the United States population but suffered 40 percent of all fire deaths.
- Seniors have a 2.7 times greater risk of dying in a fire than the total population.
- Ages 85 and over were 3.8 times more likely to die in a fire than the total population.
The good news is most residential fires are preventable and there are many precautions you can take to help make sure your senior loved one stays safe at home. Here are some fire safety tips you can put in place to keep your loved one safe.
Most fatal fires occur while people are sleeping, so it’s important to have functioning smoke alarms in every bedroom as well as all common areas of the home. Smoke alarms should not be more than 10 years old, and should be tested monthly to make sure the batteries are working. Also, be sure that the alarms are loud enough to be heard in any room. If your loved one suffers from hearing loss, it may be a good idea to update the alarms with models that use flashing lights and vibration in addition to sound.
For obvious reasons, the kitchen is a danger zone for potential fire hazards. Remind your loved one to always stay in the kitchen while the oven or stove is turned on. Make sure the “Off” switches are clearly marked on these appliances. (Try taping a small, brightly colored note on or next to the switches/buttons to help identify them.) Also, keep a working fire extinguisher easily accessible in the kitchen and make sure your loved one knows how to use it.
Electrical & Appliance Safety
Older adults tend to run cooler body temperatures than other age groups and might be more likely to keep warm using items that can pose a fire risk such as space heaters and electric blankets. Make sure that portable space heaters are placed at least 3 feet away from furniture and other items. Check electrical blankets often for any damage or fraying along the cord. Do not use electrical blankets overnight while sleeping. Also, avoid using extension cords in the home. Check all electrical outlets for safety and make sure they are not warm to the touch.
Additional Fire Safety Tips
- If your loved one is a smoker, make sure they only smoke outdoors using a deep ashtray, and away from any medical oxygen devices.
- If your loved one lives in a multi-level building or a two-story house consider moving them to the ground floor.
- Practice an escape plan in the event of a fire. Make sure all exits are free from obstruction, and keep items such as eyeglasses and walkers or canes accessible at all times.
- If you feel your loved one’s cognitive abilities have declined to a point where they may be at risk while home alone, consider hiring an in-home care provider. A caregiver can help your loved one stay safe in the comfort of their own home.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.