Fire safety tips for seniors
American ProfileOctober 19, 2011 | 1,570 views | Post a comment
Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you write a column on fire safety tips for seniors? With winter approaching, it’s important that seniors know that home fires are far more common and deadly among the elderly, but there are things they can do to guard against it. Thanks for your help.
Fire Safety Council
You’re right! Because of physical limitations and slower reaction times, seniors are particularly vulnerable in home fires. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, seniors over the age of 65 are twice as likely to die or be injured in a home fire, than those younger. For those over 75, the risk nearly triples. But with a little awareness and a few precautionary tips (see firesafety.gov), seniors can go a long way in protecting their property and themselves.
• Fire Hazards
While there are many possible causes of accidental home fires, the three most common among the elderly are caused by smoking, cooking, and alternative heating devices. Here’s a breakdown of what seniors can do to protect themselves in each of these key areas.
• Smoke Safely: Careless smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths and the second leading cause of injuries among seniors. For those who smoke it’s important to remember:
Never smoke in bed. Put your cigarette or cigar out at the first sign of feeling drowsy while watching television or reading.
Don’t leave your lit cigarette or cigar unattended. Use deep ashtrays and put your cigarettes all the way out. Consider switching to fire-safe cigarettes (firesafecigarettes.org) that self-extinguish when they’re not being smoked.
Cook Safely: Home cooking fires are the number one cause of fire injuries among the elderly. Tips that can help include:
Never leave food cooking on a stovetop unattended. When leaving the kitchen, take a wooden spoon or potholder as a reminder to turn off the oven or burners, or consider installing an automatic stove shut-off device as a safety precaution. Cookstop.com, homesensers.com, stoveguardintl.com and pioneeringtech.com sell them.
Avoid wearing loose clothing with hanging sleeves when you cook and keep towels and potholders away from flames or burners.
Never use the range or oven to heat your home.
Double-check the kitchen before you go to bed or leave the house.
Heat Safely: Alternative heating devices like space heaters, stoves, and fireplaces are another potential fire hazard for seniors. Seniors who use these devices should keep these tips in mind:
If you use a space heater, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away and always turn it off when you leave the house or go to sleep. Also, if you’re buying a new space heater, look for one with a safety feature that automatically shuts off the power if the heater falls over.
If you use a fireplace that burns wood, be sure you have a glass or metal screen front to catch the flying sparks and rolling logs, and have the chimney flue inspected annually and cleaned if needed.
If you use a heating device fueled by gas, oil, wood, or kerosene, purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors to alert you to potential toxic gas problems.
• Home Tips
Around 75 percent of seniors who die in fires each year don’t have working smoke alarms in their homes. Seniors or caregivers should make it a priority to install smoke alarms on every level of their house outside their sleeping area, and change the batteries at least once a year. It’s also important to have an escape plan in the event of a fire.
For seniors who are hearing impaired, companies like Silent Call (silentcall.com) and Harris Communications (harriscomm.com) sell smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that work with flashing strobe lights and bed vibrators to alert you when a problem arises. And, there are also home smoke and fire monitoring services like ADT (adtfireprotection.com) that can alert seniors, caregivers, and the fire department if a fire happens.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit http://SavvySenior.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)