Senior Fire Safety
Each year fire claims thousands of lives and causes billions of dollars in property damage. Many of these victims are senior citizens and people with disabilities. Here are a few safety tips to living a safer life at home and while out and about. This information is not intended to be all-inclusive, but it is intended to inform the senior about some of the safety aspects and importance of having safety devices and maintaining a safe environment at home and abroad.
Exits - Know your exit routes in your home and places you visit. Never block an exit with anything. If you have bars on your windows, make sure they have an escape latch on the inside of the windows in key areas like the bedroom and other rooms that may only have one escape route. Places that you visit often like the grocery store, doctor's office, social clubs, library, your favorite diner and movie theaters all should have posted exits, so make sure you are aware of them in case of an emergency. Don't forget to know the emergency exit plan when traveling including short visits to family and friends.
Fire Drill - It may sound a little silly but plan and practice a fire drill from all rooms in the house twice a year. Figure out two or more ways to exit your rooms and upper floors of your home if you live in a multi-story home or apartment. Make sure all windows and doors are not blocked and can be easily opened by you from the inside. If you have a difficult time remembering, post an exit map by every stairwell, room and exit way that are far from the front or back doors exiting outside. If you have a back yard, know your neighbors and surroundings for dogs, bushes and other hazards or obstructions incase your have to leave from your back yard. Decide on a meeting place outside away from the house if you have more than one person living in the home.
In the case of a fire alarm and if it is unsafe to stay in your home because of fire or it's too smoky; getting low may make it easier to breathe and see. Smoke contains toxic gases that can disorient you or at worst, overcome you so exit your home immediately. Once safe outside, then call for help using your home cordless phone, mobile phone, a neighbors phone and/or activate life alert if you have a service plan. Do not re-enter the home until the fire department has given you the all clear to return.
Fire Escape Plan
Senior Fire Safety - Continued
Smoke Detectors - Install smoke detectors in hallways, bedrooms, and living rooms as well as exits on every level of the house (this is not a complete list of rooms to place smoke detectors and actual number of smoke detectors required is based on the number of rooms and square footage of your house). Avoid locating alarms near kitchens, bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans. Test them every month and check them once a year to replace the battery too even it works (unless it contains a 10-year lithium battery). Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Make sure the warning alarms are loud enough for those have difficulty hearing. If you or your guest smokes, have non-combustible ashtrays in every room. A good investment is the smokeless ashtray that suck up and filter the smoke from the cigarettes. Never smoke in bed or when you are sleepy. Candles should be kept away from combustibles too. Extinguish candles when you leave the room. If power is out, use flashlights instead.
Kitchen Safety - Avoid kitchen fires by cleaning your stove burners and exhaust hood regularly to eliminate grease build-up. Provide good lighting near your stove and keep a fire extinguisher mounted nearby. Do not wear loose or loosely hanging clothing when cooking. Keep long hair tied up is a scarf or hair net. Never leave food cooking on a burner unattended and when cooking meals that require a long time use a timer to remind your when done. Turn pot handles inward to avoid knocking them off and always use a hot pad or mitt when handling hot pots and pans. It's a good idea to have a pot plate next to the stove incase you have to remove a hot pot or pan from a burning stove. Never put water on a hot grease fire.
Smoke Detectors Placement
Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Space Heaters and Fans
Senior Fire Safety - Continued
Space Heaters - Space heaters should not be utilized as a main source of heat. Portable electric air heaters are designed for use only as temporary supplemental heating and only while attended. If it is old throw it out and but a new one. Use them only as directed and do not place them close to exits, stairways or anywhere that will be blocking your ability to move about or that can catch on fire. Make sure they are standing on firm and even flooring so they will not tip over and create a fire. If you use heaters requiring fuel, never fill them while they are still burning, lit or hot.
Electrical Outlets - Some of your older homes do not have many electrical outlets so we sometimes overload them. Have an electrician check that the wiring and outlets meet current building codes. Remember to not overload the sockets with multiple extension cords. When using extension cords, it is best to use the ones with circuit breakers built into the extension outlet especially when using them for electronic devices like computers, televisions and other sensitive electronic devices. Also check for frayed or exposed wires on extension cords. Three prong extension plugs are best when operating most electronic devices that require a ground.
Heating and Cooling Systems - Heating, cooling systems, furnaces, water heater and chimneys should be cleaned and service once a year to avoid fire hazards. Change your filters at least once a year for heating/cooling systems and furnaces that uses them as well. Make sure there is an emergency shut-off switch. If not, have one installed. If you have or use a wood-burning fireplace, burn a cleaning log or have a professional clean your chimney regularly. Remember to have your chimney inspected for cracks that could expose your home to smoke and fire danger as well. Make sure you know which way the shoot should be turned to open when burning wood in your fireplace. Label it for all to see which way is open and close. Invest in the proper fireplace tools for handling firewood. Keep your fireplace clean and free of soot, ashes and old burnt wood.
Old Papers, Rags and Clothes - Dispose of all old newspapers, junk mail, magazines and rags as well as old and unwanted clothes immediately and properly. If possible have them recycled. Do not store them near heating systems, gasoline, cleaning fluids, kerosene or other flammables. Keep all flammable materials in a cool, vented place away from you exits and main living areas. Do not create clutter by keeping more stuff then you have room to store. If you need more space, rent a storage unit or have a yard sale for the things you don't want to keep but have value. Treat yourself with the money you make from the yard sale as an incentive to do it more often.