Fire Safety Tips
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Fire Safety Tips

        The month of October is Fire Safety Month according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Fires are particularly dangerous to senior citizens, as people older than 65 are twice as likely to die or be seriously injured by a home fire. Because of physical setbacks like slower reflexes, loss of vision, problems with mobility, and cognitive impairments can make it harder to protect against a fire or deal with fire in the event that one occurs. As a caregiver or adult child of a senior, there are several ways to help protect your older loved ones.


  • Give your loved one’s home a fire safety inspection, keeping in mind these special circumstances:
    • Make sure that smoke alarms are installed in every room, and test them monthly, replacing the batteries according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. For loved ones who have hearing loss, choose smoke alarms that have high-intensity flashing lights, or are attached to a device that vibrates to shake the pillow or bed.
    • When considering mobility challenges, if your loved one lives in a multi-storey home, consider moving their bedroom to the first floor. This will make escape easier in the event of fire.
    • For homes with security bars, add emergency releases on the inside of the house to allow them to quickly open in an emergency.
    • When using space heaters, make sure to keep them at least three feet from any bedding, drapes, furniture, or other fire hazards. Many space heaters also have an automatic switch that turns them off should they fall over, making them safer to use indoors.
    • For homes with fireplaces, ensure regular inspections to make sure they’re safe to use, and install metal mesh in the front to prevent sparks from escaping.
    • One of the biggest dangers to evacuation is clutter. Without clear, easily usable footpaths, one could find themselves trapped inside during a fire. Not to mention that many piles of clutter are themselves fire hazards.
    • If your loved one is a smoker, impress upon them the importance of never smoking in bed or when reclining. Make sure their ashtrays are large, deep, and tip-resistant, and only placed on flat surfaces. It’s also important never to smoke near oxygen tanks. There is no safe way to smoke in a home where oxygen is in use.
  • Make a fire safety plan.
    • Be sure your loved one knows the best escape routes from any given area of their home. Get a floorplan of their home and draw up an evacuation plan.
    • Conduct fire drills to rehearse what to do. Designate an outdoor meeting place and assign another member of the household to assist your elderly loved one in evacuations.
    • Be sure your loved one has a phone readily available, with either accompanying lists of important numbers, or already programmed into the phone.
  • Important reminders.
    • Space heaters should be turned off and unplugged when not in use, and should never be left running overnight.
    • Fireplaces are not to be used to burn trash.
    • When cooking, take care, and make sure they know to use a pan lid to extinguish grease fires and turn off the burner